Abson is a small village in South Gloucestershire which consists of a handful of houses, a farm and a church. Abson's church is dedicated to St James the Great and is a largely unremarkable building except for a carving which is tucked away high on the outside East wall of the church. The carving is very easy for a casual observer to miss, but once it is noticed it is a real attention grabber. The carving in question is of a man crouching on all fours, with his testicles and a large erection proudly on display! At first glance such a rude carving looks out of place on a church, but it seems that graphic carvings such are these are fairly common on churches, castles and other ancient buildings around the country.
This carving seems to be a male version of a Sheela na Gig figure and possibly dates from the Saxon or early Norman period. Sheela na Gig carvings typically depict naked women displaying large and exaggerated vaginas, often holding them open as if to be inspected by the viewer. These female figures are sometimes accompanied by a male figure sporting an erection, and the carving on Abson church looks to be such an example.
The purpose behind Sheela na Gig carvings is not really known, however some theories suggest that they may be representations of pagan goddesses and gods relating to fertility. It is also proposed that they are a warning against lust and the sins of the flesh, or perhaps protection against death and evil - which may explain why this man is near the window, protecting that entrance to the church.
Ultimately however, the intended purpose of these types of carvings is not known for sure. So just enjoy it for what it is, a rude carving of a horny man on a church!
|St James' Church in Abson.|
|The East wall.|
|Notice the horny man?|
Pictures: South Gloucestershire (August 2015).
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