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Carved stone capital


British Museum

British Museum

The capital is from the priory of Lewes in Sussex. It is from a respond, or half column, that would have been attached to a wall to support an arch. It is carved in Caen stone, imported from Normandy, and is decorated with the figures of two beasts, a lion (left) and a griffin (right), divided by a tree-like motif. It is a great misfortune that the face of the lion is lost and that the griffin's ferocious beak is also missing. However, the state of preservation on the whole is outstanding and most of the detail remains vigorously crisp and fresh.The plumage of the griffin is heavily layered and textured and the mane of the lion is picked out in delicate curls arranged across its chest and shoulders. The claws of both animals are finely chiselled and possess an angularity that shows little evidence of weathering. This is a remarkable feature since the capital may have fallen from its original position in the Priory in 1538 during the turbulent years of the dissolution of the monasteries. Nothing is known of where it was placed in the Priory but it is likely to have furnished an internal rather than an external space.

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  • Title: Carved stone capital
  • Date Created: 1150/1175
  • Physical Dimensions: Height: 375.00mm; Depth: 580.00mm; Width: 586.00mm; Width: 586.00mm; Depth: 580.00mm
  • External Link: British Museum collection online
  • Technique: carved
  • Subject: griffin; mammal; tree/bush
  • Registration number: 2004,0801.1
  • Production place: Made in England
  • Place: Found/Acquired Lewes
  • Period/culture: Late Medieval
  • Material: stone
  • Copyright: Photo: © Trustees of the British Museum
  • Acquisition: Donated by Corfield Mervyn Ralph. Funded by British Museum Friends
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