What are Sheela Na Gigs?
Sheela Na Gigs are quasi-erotic stone carvings of a female figure usually found on Norman or to be more precise Romanesque churches. They consist of an old woman squatting and pulling apart her vulva, a fairly strange thing to find on a church. The carvings are old and often do not seem to be part of the church but have been taken from a previous older, usually romanesque, building. See the weathering on the Church Stretton Sheela as compared to the surrounding masonry. It is very likely that the sheela comes from an earlier 12th century chapel that stood on the site.
  • Even though the image is overtly sexual the representation is always grotesque, sometimes even comical. They are usually associated with "hags" or "old women". The carvings often incorporate ribs showing on the torso and sometimes facial scaring as well, although this feature seems to be more common in Ireland than in mainland Britain and the continent.
  • The carvings are normally found on Churches usually of Norman origin and of Romanesque design, but they can also be found on Secular buildings (e.g. above a stable door in Haddon Hall Derbyshire, they can also be found on many castles in Ireland )
  • Sheela na gigs can be found all over Britain, Ireland and even France and Spain. In fact Images of Lust proposes a Continental origin for them. 
  • While the most common interpretation of a sheela na gig is "a pagan idol" there is little evidence for a pagan connection. The prevalence of sheelas in Ireland (far more so than anywhere else) suggests that even if the image originates on the continent the image  has meaning for the Irish. However the pagan interpretation of sheelas is by far the most popular and generates most of the debate on the figures.
The Sheela Na Gig Project
The Sheela Na Gig Project is an attempt to collate information about Sheela Na Gigs in the UK. Whereas there seems to be plenty of data on Irish figures the UK and continental figures are often overlooked. This website aims to address the balance by listing all known figures in the UK complete with photographs and include information on figures from the continent. This is by necessity a work in progress so please check back to see if any "new" sheelas have been added. You will find many figures here that appear in books on the subject and some that do not. The site also includes figures which are reported as being Sheela Na Gigs but in fact are other types of Romanesque motifs. The information on this site has mostly come from first hand visits to the figures except where indicated. We have been gathering information on figures since 1999 using visits, printed sources, information supplied by visitors to the site and users of the sheela na gig mailing list.


items of interest in exhibitionist figure research, including new figures and visit reports.

Be sure to check out 

Sheela Na Gig Booklist

Sheela na Gig Theories

Distribution of Sheelas in Great Britain  Sheela Map

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For more information on Sheelas click on the Sheela Na Gig webring.

This The Sheela Na Gig Project site
is owned by John Harding.

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 If you are aware of any Sheela na gigs in your area or if you have any other information on them please me so I can add them to this site.
The Sheela Na Gig Project
Le projet de Sheela Na Gig essaye de dépister les figures exhibitionnistes en France. Si vous savez de satisfaites contactez-nous
2013-04-17 New page on the Exeter sheela na gigs and male figure
2012-07-20 New pictures and information on the South Tawton figure 
2011-10-08 New photos and information on Darley Dale and New Video of Alstonefield
2010-12-31 Lifting the Veil... New book review
2009-11-29 New sheela at Southwell Minster
2009-11-21 New sheela at Woodkirk discovered
2009-07-05 Killevin and Taynuilt pages added
2009-05-29 Eastry page added
2009-04-05 Alstonefield page added
2009-02-22 Wimborne page added
2009-02-20 Binstead page updated
2008-11-23 New photo of the Copgrove figure
2008-11-23 New page on the Nunburnholme figure.
2008-09-18 New page on the Ansford Anus Shower
2008-09-14 New exhibitionist figure google map
2007-12-14 New page on the Braunston "Goddess" in Rutland
2007-04-23 New page on the Ancaster figures.
2007-04-22 Updates to the Mere page and new West Knoyle page.
2006-12-29 New page on the Bishopstone figures.
2006-12-15 New page on the male phallic figure at Avening
2006-12-11 New page on the Trondheim Figure Norway
2006-10-28 New page on the Stiklestad Figure Norway
2006-10-15 New page on the Moulton figures
2006-07-31 New page on the Kildonan (Eigg) figure
2006-07-17 New page on the Iona figure
2006-07-17 New page on the Rodel figures
2006-04-29 New Exhibitionist Pair at Devizes Discovered by Dr Theresa Oakley and Dr Alex Woodcock published in the Wiltshire Archaeological and Natural History Magazine.
2006-04-29 New page on the Egremont Sheela na gig
2006-04-29 Possible Exhibitionist Pair found in Norfolk
2006-04-16 Two new possible figures at Bishopstone Sussex on the CRSBI Site
2006-03-11 Kilvickeon figure in Scotland added. New page on the Kilvickeon figure on the Ross of Mull courtesy of Marc Calhoun
2005-12-29 New Theories page added. New page outlining the some of the current theories explaining Sheela Na Gigs
2005-10-26 New figure at Twywell added to the site. This figure is little known and does not appear in any of the recent books on sheelas.
2004-11-21 Buncton Figure Destroyed!
The Buncton figure was destroyed sometime between the 10th-11th of November 2004. 
2004-12-11 Two sheelas found on Ely Cathedral. Ely has been known to have a sheela for a quite a while now but it turns out it in fact it has two.
2004-11-27 New Sheela-na-gig discovered in Leicestershire.  A "new" sheela-na-gig in was discovered by Rick Forbes on the CRSBI site in Twywell Leicestershire.
New lead on a "lost" sheela-na-gig. Gay Cannon of www.irelands-sheelanagigs.org has found a possible lead on the whereabouts of the lost Egremont sheela.
New sheela-na-gig book released Barbara Frietag's new book on sheelas was released in October 2004 click here for a review
"New" sheela-na-gig found on font. A "new" sheela na gig has been found on a font in Cleckheaton Yorkshire.

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