The Twywell Sheela Na gig
The Twywell Sheela Na gig

The Figure

This little known sheela na gig resides on the tower of the Parish church of Twywell near Kettering. You can see it as you walk through the main gate of the churchyard to the left of the clock on the main tower. This sheela has not been published in any of the major books on Sheelas and came to light on the CRSBI site1.

The sheela is of the acrobatic variety with legs held to the head, with the feet facing forward in an almost impossible position. The torso of the carving is made up entirely of the vulva with the legs directly emanating from it. Unusually the figure has a small but deeply drilled anus as well. Conversely we could say that the torso has been slit, but the presence of the anus would seem to suggest that the torso slit is meant to represent the vulva. Again we have an overly large head in comparison to the body.

Other sculpture
It is interesting to note that Professor Zarnecki thinks that the kings head on the South doorof the church is similar to those found on Monks Doorway and north transept doorway of Ely cathedral. As we know Ely Cathedral  also holds two sheela na gig carvings2. It is also worth noting however that these differ in style to the Twywell sheela.

A few corbels over to the right from the sheela we have an example of a Romanesque mouth puller.

Is interesting that this sheela has escaped notice for such a long time especially when the church has received the attentions of Professor Zarnecki. The Romanesque sculpture at Twywell on

1. Corpus of Romanesque sculpture in British and Ireland.
2. G. Zarnecki, The Early Sculpture of Ely Cathedral. London 1958, 22, 45, pl.18. from CRSBI Site above

Mouth Puller Twywell
Church Door
Church Door
Head Above Door
Head Above Door

Close up of the kings head. Prof. George Zarnecki makes a comparison between this head and the head on the Priors Door at Ely Cathedral 45 miles to the East.