Front view-of-figure-ALLINTRO

NISMR No.: FER 173:002

Monument Type: Early Christian figures

The figures have gradually come to light since the early 19th century and have been much illustrated and discussed. Most or all were reused as building blocks in the church. One figure (3) was found as recently as 1958. The figures are impressive in scale, in their powerful modelling, and in the individuality of the faces, despite an overall similarity. All stare fixedly forward. Eyes are usually round and brow prominent, mouths small, hands and feet very small. Most wear the long tunic with bottom hem and sometimes front seam, familiar from manuscript and metalwork illustrations of churchmen.

The style of carving may have its roots in the pagan past, but there is no doubt that the figures are Christian and carried Biblical messages. Sockets in the heads and rough stumps under the feet suggest that the stones were structural members, to be set into something and support something else on their heads. The problem is to imagine how they were used, either singly or in pairs. Possibilities include structural supports in a church, in a large preaching pulpit, in a substantial shrine, or in the internal fittings of a church. They are unlikely to be earlier than the major figure-carved high crosses, and the 9th and 10th centuries are likely, before the abandonment of the wooden church. The figures were clearly of no interest to the builders of the Romanesque church, who used them simply as building stones.



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