Faces from History

As part of our visit to the Stained Glass Museum at Ely Cathedral we were able to get close to a selection of stone heads. They show a variety of damage, both from weathering and what appear to be sword cuts.

From the weathering, and the way they’ve been mounted in the wall with a certain measure of untidiness I’m assuming that they aren’t in their original positions.

They aren’t the most engaging selection of heads, being ugly without being interestingly grotesque, and generally lacking interesting details. I can’t find any mention of them on the museum website but will try to find out more about them.

The trouble with my lack of knowledge is that I may be dismissing historical gems as dull. I did once contemplate doing a degree in Archaeology as a mature student, but taking three years out of work was a step too far, so I remain ignorant and under qualified in the area of stone heads. And many other things.

I’ve often wondered what gets people so worked up about religion that they would fight about it and attack stone heads with a sword. Simple common sense indicates that even if you are a religious zealot you shouldn’t be abusing your sword like that as your life might depend on it later. Thinking of it, a religious zealot probably wouldn’t worry about that, as he’d be sure of going to Heaven anyway. Common sense also indicates that a hammer would do the job better.

As religious violence and smashing up museums are still issues today it must be some deep-seated trait of humans.

The common soldier of the Civil War wasn’t known for his care of swords. I can’t recall the exact quote but General Monck was of the opinion that they used their swords for cutting firewood more than they did for fighting. To be fair, firewood is important.

I’ll leave it there for now, but still have the (more interesting) heads from outside and lots of Stained Glass photos.

I’m still having a problem loading photos, so it’s going to be a long old day of wrestling with technology.

As Julia wants to go to Hobbycraft, I may kill two birds with one stone – making her happy and avoiding the technology for a while. Sounds like a win-win situation.


10 thoughts on “Faces from History

  1. Pingback: More Stone Faces | quercuscommunity

  2. tootlepedal

    I wonder of the sword cuts on the faces had any relation to the old Bernard Miles sketch in which he remarks that a crusader’s statue on his tomb proved to be the finest bit of sharpening stone in Hertfordshore.

  3. Laurie Graves

    Good point you make about those heads! Sometimes art is the same way—the context makes it more interesting. (For me, this is certainly true of minimalist art.)


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