SK7053 : Tympanum, Southwell Minster

near to Southwell, Nottinghamshire, Great Britain

Tympanum, Southwell Minster
Tympanum, Southwell Minster
In the North Transept above the doorway at the western corner is the most famous carved stone in Southwell, known as the Tympanum, and dated by various scholars between the ninth and eleventh century. The wall where it has been put belongs to the twelfth century, and so the stone is clearly brought from elsewhere.
On its face is a carving of Archangel Michael with a sword, warding off a dragon whose tail curls around his body and up into the air. On the left side of the stone, a damaged figure, presumably intended to be King David as a shepherd with his sheep beside him, pulls at the jaws of a lion, whose tail curls like that of the dragon.
At the time of the Norman conquest and their subsequent settlement of England, the combination of the two protectors was a potent message for a Saxon audience.
The underside of the stone is decorated with an interlaced leaf pattern, of much earlier style than the figures on the face.
It seems most likely that this pattern is the last remnant of carving from the tenth century, and that the stone was at that time used as a grave slab. Around 1100 a sculptor took away the old grave stone, cut away the surface, and carved the main panel of figures, to use it as the head of a doorway. This may have been in the Anglo-Saxon church just before it was demolished, but more likely it was for an important part of the new minster. It reached its present position in the transept later still, over 200 years after it was carved.
Creative Commons Licence [Some Rights Reserved]   © Copyright J.Hannan-Briggs and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.
year taken
2011
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SK7053, 269 images   (more nearby)
Photographer
Contributed by
Julian P Guffogg   (find more nearby)
Image classification?
Supplemental image
Date Taken
Sunday, 18 September, 2011   (more nearby)
Submitted
Friday, 4 November, 2011
Geographical Context
Religious sites 
Place (from Tags)
Southwell Minster 
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Informative 
Subject Location
OSGB36: geotagged! SK 7015 5379 [10m precision]
WGS84: 53:4.6045N 0:57.2590W
Photographer Location
OSGB36: geotagged! SK 7015 5379
View Direction
West-northwest (about 292 degrees)
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Tympanum  Cathedral of the Blessed Virgin Mary 

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