The Ashbourne Sheela Na Gig


The Ashbourne Sheela Na Gig. Used with permission of Ashley Throw

This figure was found by a builder while working on a path in Church St in the town of Ashbourne Derbyshire.  It was originally put into a skip with the rest of the rubble from the path but was fortunately rescued. It was then later sold to Mr Ashley Throw of Ashbourne who realised this was both old and interesting and bought the figure with a view to conserving it.

Location of the find

The figure was dug up approximately 200 yards from the Church of St Oswald on Church St. St Oswald’s was started in 1240 by Hugh de Pateshull and replaced an earlier Saxon and possibly Norman church. A Norman crypt was discovered in 1913 and the earliest existing parts of the church are thought to date from 1160. It would seems a likely source for the figure.

The Figure

The figure is just over a foot wide and 28 inches tall. It is free standing and falls into the monstrous category of Sheela Na Gigs. The head is the most striking aspect with a skull like face and round protruding eyes. The right side of the jawline is pronounced while the left is missing, the mouth is indicated by a thick raised line. On the chest ribs are evident even to the point of representing a skeleton. The legs are wide apart bent at the knee with the hands resting on the thighs. An oval hangs between the legs with a deep deliberate incision. There is no way that this could be mistaken for a penis and definitely represents a vulva.

A Monstrous figure

Ireland holds a number of Sheela Na Gig figures which have a monstrous aspect. In the UK the figures generally are less so. This one is a definite exception with obvious cadaver like features.


The figure has been reported to the Portable Antiquities Scheme


This figure is in private possession and is not visible to the public. This figure lies less than 8 miles away from the also recently discovered Alstonefield figure


Japan’s Sexual Gods Shrines, Roles and Rituals of Procreation and Protection

Japan's Sexual Gods
Japan’s Sexual Gods

Not Sheela na gig related but should prove a fascinating read

Well known expert in Japanese Studies Dr Stephen Turnbull, has released a new book called  Japan’s Sexual Gods Shrines, Roles and Rituals of Procreation and Protection.

Japanese shrines have many deities represented by phalluses and female sexual objects. This book provides a gallery of photographs and locations along with details of their rituals, festivals.

There is also a YouTube channel which has a number of videos relating to the book

The book on Amazon