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This image is from one of my favorite FaceBook pages: Strange Things Found in Churches. Caption is: “Probably my favourite roof boss. Early 16th century, Tawstock, Devon.”

Sadly, this is the very last image ever posted to the group. Without warning or explanation, the owner of the page shut it down. I hate it when people nuke sites like that.

Oh, right. You need to see the whole thing to make sense of it. Scratch that — it makes even less sense when you can see the whole thing.

I know what you’re thinking, but I would just like to point out that there are four hands in the picture, and two of them can’t belong to any visible body. NOW what do you think you’re looking at?

I leave you to ponder. Good weekend!


Comment from ExpressoBold
Time: November 2, 2018, 10:13 pm


Comment from Uncle Al
Time: November 2, 2018, 10:43 pm

What do I think I’m looking at? Simple! Cunniauris.

Comment from LesterIII
Time: November 2, 2018, 10:46 pm

I believe this is a representation of “The Sermon of Three-score and Nine”. (head is turned to come up for air)

THAT’S what I think I am looking at.

Also, FREAKING AWESOME Inktober Mdm Stoaty!

Comment from Some Vegetable
Time: November 2, 2018, 11:27 pm

Oh dear sweet summer child, Weasel. You can’t tell what you are looking at? Hint: I can think of 69 reasons it would be very unusual to see this in a Christian Church unless it were the church of Oral What’s-his-name. The second pair of hands belong to the bottom person whose bum you are seeing, and they are embracing the person on top, whose head you see. It can be assumed that head you cannot see is occupied doing exactly the same thing as the head of the person you can see.

If you need another hint, well perhaps Uncle Badger can explain when you’re older.

Comment from Weaseltablet3
Time: November 3, 2018, 1:12 am

But the second set of hands is turned round the wrong way.

Comment from Steve Skubinna
Time: November 3, 2018, 1:48 am

It’s tempting to bring up Cthulhu, but you Brits have plenty of your own goofy writers. Lord Dunsany, for example.

Comment from DurnedYankee
Time: November 3, 2018, 2:08 am

Nope, the 2nd set of hands are the right way.
Buddy of mine had a song for this.
Which as you have not heard it, I will not proceed to relate.

Comment from Armybrat
Time: November 3, 2018, 2:49 am

Many churches hide carvings making fun of prominent figures of the time. Makes you wonder who was caught with their pants or panties down.

Comment from Mitchell
Time: November 3, 2018, 4:07 pm

Stoaty’s correct, the thumbs ARE on the wrong sides of the hands if they belong to the bottom figure. Also the legs are articulated the wrong way for that pose. How fun!

Comment from BJM
Time: November 3, 2018, 5:26 pm

Brit writer and presenter Richard Taylor’s illustrated book How to Read a Church is excellent if you’re into this subject. He also has a 6-part Beeb series Churches How to Read Them on YT. I don’t recall this image, but he did ‘splain Sheela na gigs.

[EDIT] Aha! found it! This roof boss in St. Peters, Tawstock, Devon, depicting two male wrestlers is unusual as the wrestlers are naked except for shoes. The intertwined figures likely represents the Biblical story of Jacob wrestling with the angel.

Photographer Paul Harley based in Norwich, has an on-going project of photographing medieval church details and a book of stunning images.

Yeah, I’m geeky about this stuff too.

Comment from Uncle Al
Time: November 3, 2018, 9:16 pm

@BJM – Wrestling? That’s the story, eh? Those two figures sure don’t look to me like they’re wrestling. They don’t even look like the output of an inept sculptor who honestly was trying to chisel out two wrestlers.

I’m reminded of True Williams’ illustration in the first edition of Mark Twain’s Tom Sawyer where the artist has a little word spacing fun with Bulwer-Lytton’s famous “THE PEN IS MIGHTIER THAN THE SWORD”.

Comment from surly ermine
Time: November 4, 2018, 4:32 pm

Hmmm, yes the other set of hands are facing the wrong way. Perhaps it was a repair error. Kinda like the monkey-fresco lady.

Wrestlers? I guess we need more detail in the “junk” for a positive id.

Comment from J. S. Bridges
Time: November 5, 2018, 6:22 am

“Wrestling”, you say?…

Well – I did, once upon a time, have (for very short time only, I assure you) a college roommate who sometimes referred to some of the…apparently-displayed…”activities”, by using that term…

Not too sure just exactly what (or who) he was specifically referring-to – he did not offer any “useful” descriptive details, and I (a-hem) did not ask –

“Church roof-boss”, you say?…My, my, my…How – utterly-droll… K8-O)

Comment from Wolfus Aurelius
Time: November 5, 2018, 2:57 pm

Kama Sutra, Ecclesiastical Edition: The Threescore and Nine Entry

(Yes, the feet are pointing the wrong way)

Comment from DurnedYankee
Time: November 5, 2018, 4:39 pm

Channeled response from the crafts person what carved the work in question – (via a skill learned from the ‘steamed J.Z. Knight)

She ur he, ur zhe, is a flippin angel! ‘er feet and ‘ands can bend anyway what way she wants ’em to! Thas my story, and I’m stickin to it! Bloody modern art critics!

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