The famous Sheela-na-gig is not the only sexual carving we can find in churches. In Galicia (north west Spain) the occurrence of sexual figures in Romanesque churches is common either to warn people from sin or to protect them from evil spirits. The misunderstanding of this corbels by the subsequent inhabitants or priests of a parish led to the destruction or mutilation of many of this figures accusing them of being sinful. However, some of them hide traditional beliefs in the power of genitalia as protective devices which are worth an explanation. This paper analyses some of these corbels and explains their now hidden meaning.
This paper examines a cross shaft from the parish church of All Saints, Barwick. It argues that its complex imagery centres on a conflation of the iconography of compunction as exemplified by Adam and Eve knowing their nakedness, and the iconography of salvation, as exemplified by the Gospel references to healing through touching the hem of Christ’s garment. It compares Barwick to an analogous carving from Bilton-in-Ainsty, also West Yorkshire, and argues for a proactive and informed culture of mission, possibly associated with the Archbishops of York, in the late 10th and early 11th centuries.