Gargoyles
During my trips to Scotland, I'm always fascinated by the gargoyles that seem to be everywhere I look. There was a pair at St. Magnus Cathedral on Orkney Island, where one gargoyle appeared to be shouting at the other, whose hand up to his ear as if he were trying to hear. And Stirling Castle has quite a few gargoyles and grotesques hanging about, as well as do many of the other castles built during the 13th century and after. Gargoyles can be found in Ancient Egyptian, Ancient Roman and Ancient Greek architecture although they are most commonly associated with Medieval Gothic architecture. 
Stirling Castle
Architects often used multiple gargoyles on buildings to divide the flow of rainwater off the roof to minimize the potential damage from a rainstorm. A trough is cut in the back of the gargoyle and rainwater exits through the open mouth. Gargoyles are usually elongated because the length of the gargoyle determines how far the water is thrown from the wall. The word is derived from the old French word "gargouille" meaning throat. In Architectural terms only the creature serving as an actual water spout is called a Gargoyle, otherwise is it known as a Grotesque. A grotesque may be used solely as decoration.

Stirling Castle



Biltmore House


Gargoyles were usually carved in the form of a grotesque face, figure or frightening creature projecting from a roof gutter. Some were painted and some were even gilded, and might depict any number of grotesque images including ugly human faces, animals, mythical creatures, or imaginary creatures. Those combining several animals are called "chimeras" Stone masons had free choice of what their gargoyles should look like, and no two gargoyles are exactly the same.

Biltmore House
The earliest Gargoyles were made of wood or even terracotta but early Medieval Gothic gargoyles were made of stone. Later gargoyles, especially in churches, were predominantly limestone and marble, although metals such as lead were also used in making gargoyles. Stone gargoyles were carved on the ground and then put into place when the building was near completion. While gargoyles were included in the construction of many medieval buildings, they seem to be most prevalent on churches.
Biltmore House

Gargoyles served two purposes. First, they provided a method of drainage which protected the stones and the mortar of churches, cathedrals and castles from erosion. Second, they were considered guardians of the buildings to ward off evil.

I hope you enjoyed reading about gargoyles!


Gwyn
4 Responses
  1. When I started back with paranormal romances, I was kinda giggle about GARGOYLES! I know all about vamps, shifters, fate, demons, but a stone folks! I read 1 & now I love them!


  2. Gwyn Brodie Says:

    Patty, they are interesting, thats for sure!


  3. Great post! I love looking at all the different types of gargoyles.



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