River Wissey Lovell Fuller

Infrequently Asked Questions

April 2001

Things you never knew you wanted to know

Gargoyles may not be what you think they are.

Taken from the name of a dragon (Gargouille) slayed by St Romanus in the French version of St George and the dragon, a gargoyle is a waterspout. During rainfall, it captures water like a bowl and spits it out from its mouth, saving the walls from rot and damp.

Although we tend to give the name to any hideous stone face protruding from Gothic walls, those that are not actual waterspouts are known as 'chimeras' (after a creature from Greek mythology with a lion's head, goat's body and serpent's tail).

Traditionally, British gargoyles are based on the Empire emblems of lion and eagle.

Ray Thompson

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