Alien and Science-Fiction Gargoyles on Ancient Churches in Pictures

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What are these fantastic monsters doing in churches?

Why these nightmarish monkeys, these strange savage lions, and creatures in cloisters?

The traditional gargoyle is a horrendous creature who leers out of medieval church walls. But, now, people have started to bringing science fictional flourishes to these fantasy creations. Look at these amazing pictures:

Alien gargoyle on Paisley Abbey, Scotland. This church was built in the early 14th century! Many of the original gargoyles were replaced during the renovations in the early 1990s.
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13th Century Paisley Abbey Alien gargoyle. Photo: Marc Harkin

The legend says that St. Romanus (“Romain”) (AD 631–641), the bishop of Rouen delivered the country around Rouen, France from a monster called Gargouille (=Gargoyle) or Goji.

The Devil in person: Gargoyle on the Magdalen College in Oxford
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The devil in person: Gargoyle on Magdalen College in Oxford. Photo: The land of shadow

The monster La Gargouille looked like the typical dragon with batlike wings, a long neck, and the ability to breathe fire from its mouth (the actual gargoyles we know).

Salisbury Cathedral strange monster gargoyle
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Salisbury Cathedral strange monster gargoyle. Photo: Wikipedia

After being killed, La Gargouille was brought back to Rouen, where it was burnt. However, its head and neck didn’t due to being tempered by its own fire breath.

A xenomorph alien gargoyle at Chapelle de Bethléem (Bethlehem Chapel) in Nantes
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A Xenomorph Alien gagoyle at Chapelle de Bethléem (Bethlehem Chapel) in Nantes. Photo: Loute

So, it was decided that the head should be mounted on the walls of the newly built church to scare off evil spirits.

A Gremlin gargoyle at Chapelle de Bethléem (Bethlehem Chapel) in Nantes
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Gremlin gargoyle at Chapelle de Bethléem (Bethlehem Chapel) in Nantes. Photo: Loute

As well as protecting people and the city from enemies.

Weird half-dragon half-chicken gargoyle in Switzerland
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A strange gargoyle somewhere in Switzerland by Paul Malon

In commemoration of St. Romain, the Archbishops of Rouen were granted the right to set a prisoner free on the day that the reliquary of the saint was carried in procession.

A scared or surprised dragon on Bamburgh Castle in England
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A scared or surprised dragon on Bamburgh Castle in England by Matthew Boyle

What symbolism do you find in these amazing gargoyle sculptures? Do they have a meaning for you?

Watch more gargoyle pictures!

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2 COMMENTS

  1. I’m not sure it’s very strange or unexpected that imagery we in the anglophone west find evocative and frightening bears similarities to what 13th century Europeans found evocative and frightening. These were the major cultural and artistic displays of the time, of a type (sculpture, architecture) that lasts far beyond the people who conceived it. The fact that we now see certain visual cues and think of Giger or Ridley Scott just means that Giger and Ridley Scott have eyeballs and are culturally descended from the people who carved these gargoyles.

    I would be quite interested to know 13th or 14th century sculptors figured they were depicting in pieces like these, but how we respond to them says more about our current cultural milieu than it does about the origin of the works.

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