reside in the village of Moulton, Suffolk and were first reported by Dr
Ron Baxter in the newsletter of the Corpus of Romanesque Sculpture in
the British Isles. The sculpture consists of a loose slab which at the
time of writing is stored in the vestry under shelf. It shows a male
and female figure carved in relief with an ill defined square floating
between them. Both figures are jug eared and the male figure's hands
are over large. The female figure's hands gesture toward the groin
which has been damaged at some point. what remains of the right hand
appears to be cupped but this may jus be down to the damage on the
figure. The remains left hand appear to be holding back the left thigh.
These positions are similar to other exhibitionist figures the left
hand holds the thigh and the right indicates to the vulva.
Unfortunately due to the damage on the figure there is no indication of
a vulva. If one did exist then it would have been a fairly modest
affair. If the hand was cupping then this unlike most other figures
which are usually pointing to the vulva.
The lower half of the male figure is also damaged but there appear to be the remains of a penis hanging to the ground between the squatting legs. The hands are raised in the orans position as if praying. The figure is quite blackened so it is hard to make out any remaining features. The object between the figures is something of a mystery. It has been carved quite deliberately and appears to have a small section missing either deliberately or due to damage. Neither of figures is now overtly exhibitionist but from the poses and features which are similar to other exhibitionist figures it seems likely that they once were. The church is quite a grand affair for such small a village and the current building dates from the perpendicular and decorated periods. There was however a Norman incarnation the remains of which can still be seen in the fabric of the church. A number of later gargoyles and green men adorn the church exterior. It seems that this slab is a fairly recent find as it was not recorded in a study of the church in 1937 or in Pevsner's 1961 or 1975 editions. Pevsner took pains to record sheela na gigs so it would have been something that would usually appear in the entry for the church. In fact the first mention of the slab appears in D.P. Mortlock's The Popular Guide to Suffolk Churches from 19881 .It would be interesting to find out when exactly the slab first appeared in the church.
Anthony Weir makes a comparison between these two figures and other figures in the church of Saint-Hilaire-le-Grand in Poitiers, France. The position of the hands is nearly identical the only difference being the female figure holds one hand up (another gesture common to sheela na gigs). This carving has been damaged too.
More information on the church and these figures can be fount at the CRSBI site.
If you have any information please contact me.
|The female figure close up.|
|The Male figure|
|1. CRSBI Site Dr Ron Baxter http://www.crsbi.ac.uk/ed/sf/moult/index.htm|
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