Project Gargoyle - 8,000 more 'mug shots' needed!

Project GargoyleDuring last summer, while most of us were absorbed by the Olympics or staying at home dodging the showers, an ever-increasing number of photographers were out and about sneaking up on unsuspecting gargoyles and other medieval carvings in Leicestershire and Rutland. Indeed, so many of them were out and about that we now think at least one-fifth of all these carvings have now been carefully recorded.

With all that effort, why only one-fifth? Well, truth to tell, no one actually knows yet how many medieval carvings there are in Leicestershire and Rutland – there are so many nobody has ever tried to count them all. But as nearly one-fifth of the churches have been recorded – and that includes some of the ones with lots of such carvings – then the best guess is that there about ten thousand carvings in total. So that only leaves about eight thousand left to be shot!

This wealth of medieval art has never been properly looked at before,’ according to Bob Trubshaw, who is the Volunteer Co-ordinator for Project Gargoyle, which was set up in 2009 by Leicestershire County Council. ‘No one has tried to record all these medieval carvings in a whole county previously. So what the volunteer photographers are doing is a pioneering effort. Once the database of photographs is more-or-less complete then all sorts of researchers can ask questions about these carvings and hopefully get some interesting answers, in a way that has never been possible until now.’

The current team of hard-working volunteers is, however, looking for new recruits who have digital SLR cameras suitable for dealing with the challenges of recording these sculptures, which are often high up and sometimes in dark corners. For further information please see the PDF guidelines which can be found online (www.leics.gov.uk/gargoyle). A free training day has been organised on 6th April 2013, at Tilton on the Hill; to book a place please email Liz Blood (Liz.Blood@leics.gov.uk)

Image: Theddingworth beastie - credit: David Morley

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