Dragon Hunting at the Viking Exhibition at the Norwich Castle Museum

I was looking for clues to give me a better understanding of what I think of as "my Hautbois font-base."
Bingo! Got the chap! He's depicted on a limestone cross from Newgate, York  (YorkM:1993.714) . He appears with haloed angels and is described by the interpretation board close by as being, " a shackled beast",

He turns up again on a grit stone tomb slab from beneath York Minster (YorkM: 1993.713)

I imagine that it is on the basis of the next picture that the scene depicted is interpreted as slaying of the dragon Fafnir by Sigurd as recorded in the Volsunga Saga.

At this alarm bells should ring!  The Volsunga Saga is late 13th C. The earliest German versions of the story, in which Sigurd is called Siegfried,  begin in 12th C!  However, a brief outline of the story is told in the Anglo Saxon epic,  Beowulf.   It is a text that J.R.R. Tolkien argued must have come from the Conversion period, perhaps some date close to 700 C.E..
The York sculptures above are da…

Broads' Heritage Churches

It  is 9 years since I launched the Churches Together on the Broads web page to promote our heritage churches .

By 2016 it had done its job and run its course. 

Both  Norwich Diocese and Broads Tourism had taken up the baton

Today I picked up the wonderful, new, Visit the Broads
Pocket Guide

The future looks good!
Many thanks to everyone who has shared in the journey and has picked up the baton.
I'll allow myself a glass of something tonight and drink your health!
Tomorrow I'll crack on!  There's work to be done on 

Pride of Place - Anglo Saxon Kingdom's Exhibition

It was great to meet an old Norfolk friend, in pride of place, welcoming visitors to the Anglo Saxon Kingdoms Exhibition at  the British Library!  He represents the old East Anglia. East Anglia before Christian missionaries began the conversion in the 7th C.
Made of clay, the model of Spong Hill Man forms the stopper of a cremation urn ' Looking at him in a new light, he seemed less like one of the three monkeys, perhaps somewhere between Rodin's Thinker and Edvard Munch's The Scream, as he contemplates the mysteries of life and death.  For such as him St.Felix established a church close to Spong Hill at North Elmham. A church that was to become the centre of the diocese until it transferred to Norwich in 11th C. 

Another Norfolk treasure  - the  (the newly acquired)  Whinfarthing Pendant  - was displayed nearby.

It dates from a time when the East Anglian elite was beginning to turn towards Christianity. Like St.Felix, who accompanied King Sigeberht of East Anglia from ex…

Bishop Herbert and St. Felix

Eight years have past since I last puzzled the Elmham Question
( See and the matching  Bishop Herbert built two matching churches, each with the same ground plan at both North and South Elmham.

Recently, I have been puzzling the relief sculpture of St.Felix in Norwich Cathedral. It was part of the furniture around the Bishop's Entrance in the North Transept. Both the sculpture and the architecture around the door were deliberately antiqued to look old even when they were new! This latest round of puzzling is connected with The Norfolk Saints' Way , one of  Norwich Cathedral's Green Pilgrimage projects. Along the route from Burgh Castle are two churches, at Reedham and Loddon, that were founded by St.Felix.

This very morning I was at the 8 a.m. Holy Communion service in Norwich Cathedral, kneeling beside Bishop Herbert's grave, once again ponder…

St.John of the Cross and the Broads National Park

Yes, I know he never came here but.........    I have been revisiting the arguments of the Reformation. The echos of the bad tempered arguments are visible in -  broken 7 sacrament fonts, a few remaining pieces of medieval glass,  rood screens where the saints faces have been scratched out and empty niches once occupied by the images of saints.

And then there is Lollards' Pit

In some ways St.John of the Cross was a Reformer too and he got a lot of grief because of it!  When I think about him as a bare foot friar,  I am reminded that John Wycliffe had four such friars supporting him when he appeared before the Bishop of London.

I find it a very odd thing that the Norfolk Saints Way on its way into Norwich Cathedral has Lollards' Pit as a way station. I wander what the Lollards might have thought about 21st Century pilgrims!  In their day they were dead against it.

St.John of the Cross is more nuanced. He has this to say about pilgrimages and images :- 
he that makes a pilgrimage doe…

St.John of the Cross Pilgrtimage

On this feast day of St.John of the Cross I remember a trip I made to walk in his footsteps!
I think I am right and that this (unlabelled)  photo is the view looking south from the site of his Los Martires Friary looking south towards the Alpujjas. Granada was the last city to be re-conquered from the Muslims. The Alpujjaras the last part of Spain ruled by Muslims!

It is a site just round the corner from Grenada's beautiful, Islamic gardens of the Alhambra and the Generalife. It seems to me that John uses  poetry to reach out to newly converted Muslims by using Song of Songs imagery  which was accessible to Christians and Muslims alike. 
In one of the last stanzas of the Song of the Soul and the Bridegroom. He gives more than a hint of the time and place of its composing  We shall go at once To the deep caverns of the rock Which are all secret, There we shall enter in And taste of the new wine of the pomegranate.   In Spanish the word Pomegranate is Grenada . 

Thank you Matthew Champion

Read this at
"A moment in time - when a resigned population took stock of what God had sent their way, and what the church had failed to protect them from, and carved, painted and gilded their own reactions to events in the very fabric of the church itself. A stark irreverence combined with open elements of humour and parody. Fat friars and stupid priests, lecherous monks and harlot nuns, green men and grotesque beasts - all thrust into the very body of the church. Gone is the quiet reverence, and instead flows out a stream of self expression that obliquely questions the very structure of the church and the society in which they lived." in

I think it encapsulates so much about post Black Death religion in Norfolk. I will quote it often!

Rescued from the Sea of Chaos

This font base was recently rescued from the church of Holy Trinity, Hautbois before the redundant church was handed over to the Guides as an extra building for their Hautbois Activities Centre.

As far as I know it's providence is as follows :
It had been buried and discovered in the 19th C when the nave of , the now ruined, church of St.Mary (a.k.a. St.Theobald) was being cleared. Historic England record the font in these terms:
Early C12 font base, supporting C19 square bawl. Base carved with entwined winged serpents, divided from the foliated base section by double keel moulding.

 I imagine bawl is a typo. What they do not say, although this is true The square 19th Century bowl plunked on top of a wonderful 12th C font base, which still appears to have some of red pigment on the winged serpents, is hideous!

To my mind the lower layer of the font base is not so much foliat as waves of the sea, but perhaps I am reading too much into it. In any case, the meaning of the iconography…