The South Tawton Sheela na gig 

 

Wooden Sheela Na Gig figure at South Tawton
This Figure is reported in C.P.J. Cave's book 'Roof Bosses in Medieval Churches' . Of all Cave's reported Sheela Na Gig figures South Tawton is probably the best candidate for actually being a sheela. The figure has been described as headless but as you can see from the above photograph the head is bent upwards. Unusually for a female exhibitionist the figure is made from wood. There appears to be a cross marked on the figures chest originally I thought this was down to cracking but after having visited the figure it appears to be deliberate scratching (see below).  The figure also has two breasts lightly scratched on the chest which are faintly visible in the photograph. There appears to be a vaginal cavity with a small round ball beneath the opening. Without having seen the figure I thought this may have represented a ball of dung. As it turns out the pellet is in fact the head of a very large nail. This would seem to negate the "man at stool" interpretation of the figure. Two other nails can be seen near the elbows of the figure  As Cave is a source for this figure I'm inclined to be suspicious but of all his figures this one is the most "sheela" like.
Close up of the Chest
Close up of scratched cross and faint breasts


The lightly scratched breasts are more evident in this picture
A black and white image of the sheela that shows the breasts more clearly
A close up of the groin area clearly showing the definite cavity between the legs. Note the "dog leg" joints on the legs. This makes the figure less human an more animal. The "pellet" between the legs is in fact a large nail
Close up of the groin and legs area
Picture copyright Rachael Harding

 

 


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