Photograph courtesy of Anthony Weir. Photograph of the figure taken from C.A. Parkers article.
|A Lost Sheela
This figure was discovered during the building of St Mary's church Egremont in the 1800's. While the current building dates from that period the old church was said to include elements of Norman and Early English architecture. The figure was documented by Dr C.A. Parker in his paper "Early Sculpted Stones at Gosforth, Ponsonby, St Bridget's, Haile and Egremont" published in 1902. The photo to the right comes from this publication. A comparison between this figure and one in Milan was made by Richard N Bailey in his paper "Apotropaic Figures in Milan and North-West England" published in 1983 in Folklore vol. 94;i Both figures hold what appear to be shears and are in the act of cutting their pubic hair. In this article Baliey mentions that the figure was not mentioned in a later book by Parker in 1926 and states that the figure was already lost at that time.
However a recent online guide "Ghosts in the Lake District" written by Tony Walker (http://www.ghoststories.org.uk) mentions a sheela na gig at Egremont church.
"in the churchyard near the west door are fragments of sculpture. One of them is very interesting in that it is very old and looks very much like what, in Ireland, they call a Sheela na Gig. It's difficult to make out, but it seems to be a barbaric carving of a female figure with both hands holding her vulva apart."
Unfortunately this guide is no longer available online. It's
interesting that the above description does not exactly match the figure
on the left with both hands holding the vulva apart.
If you have any information on this figure please .
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