Ampney St Peter

The Ampney St Peter Sheela Na Gig
The Ampney St Peter Sheela Na Gig

The Church

This sheela can be found in the village church of the picturesque village of Ampney St Peter near Cirencester, Gloucestershire. The church has a late Saxon nave with rounded plain doorway adjacent to the main door. The church has been much modified with a major extension on the south side of the church being added in 1878-79. The north side however is original and still has a single gaping mouth carving just below the roof. The tower looks very old (see below) and appears to be Saxon but I cannot find information to confirm this. There appear to be two re-used gravestones in the tower windows.

The Sheela na gig

It is situated inside the church to about 7 ft off the ground to the right of the side door (see below). The genital area has been defaced at some point, however you can still see the faint outline of the vulva and slit between the legs. The figure gestures towards the groin with both hands. The rest of the figure is fairly well preserved with high small breasts and an over large head sporting a smile. The legs and arms are spindly. It’s worth noting that even though the figure is unlike the Kilpeck sheela it also smiles in a similar manner. The figure is also unusual in that it appears to have a headdress or “hair”. Jack Roberts in the Divine Hag of the Christian Celtsmentions that this figure has been “brought inside” but does not say where the figure was originally located.1 

N.B. The first time I visited the church it was locked but the second time the church was open. I believe a key is available from one of the nearby houses if you do find it locked.

Re-used gravestone
Reused gravestone(?) in the top window on the tower. It’s worth noting that the cross appears to be unfinished.
Re-used gravestone
Reused gravestone (?) in the tower window.
Gaping Mouth under the eaves of the church
Gaping Mouth under the eaves of the church
The church with remains of preaching cross on the right. The yawning figure can be see just under the eaves above the blocked doorway.
The church with remains of preaching cross on the right. The yawning figure can be see just under the eaves above the blocked doorway.

 

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