The Whittlesford Sheela na Gig

This sheela can be found on the window arch directly below the clock on the tower of the Church of St. Mary and St. Michael Cambridgeshire. Uniquely this figure is joined by a crouching phallic male figure which form the window arch. Interestingly this male figure is very much like figure that can be found at Abson near Bristol Avon even down the to position and orientation. The sheela figure itself has a deeply incised vaginal cavity which she holds open with one hand the other hand seems to be disappearing behind the leg of the male figure. One finger points to the clitoral area and there appears to be a slight suggestion of the clitoris at the top of the vagina. Both legs are held apart and the there appears to be a suggestion of breasts. The carving is not as clear as you might think and is not immediately visible from from below due to it's height on the tower. In fact if you weren't aware of it's presence then you may not notice it's existence. However once you do see the figure and it's companion then the effect is quite shocking.

A Sexual Sheela
In the arguments over whether sheelas are sexual or apotropaic in nature this figure is often cited as evidence in favour of the sexual theory. It is hard to see anything other than a sexual meaning to this carving with the erect penis of the male figure and open vulva of the female. The elongated body of the male figure suggests a monstrous nature and so seems to add weight to the argument that this carving at least, is a warning against the sin of lust. It's interesting to compare this figure to the Haddon Hall figure which seems to be equally unequivocally apotropaic in nature. These two figures show clearly that one theory does not explain all the figures.

Whittlesford Church

Whittlesford Church the Sheela is located on the window arch directly below the clock.

 

 


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