Village’s ‘nightmare’ goes on public view

Bob Saltmarsh and Moulton carving ANL-150624-085451001
Bob Saltmarsh and Moulton carving ANL-150624-085451001

An explicit pagan carving has gone on display in a parish church after years of being hidden from view.

Known as a sheela-na-gig, the carving had been hidden behind a vestry for years but has now been mounted on a wall in Moulton’s St Peter’s Church for all to see.

Church warden Bob Saltmarsh said: “It had been called thhe nightmare behind the vestry curtain. It is not a nightmare but a stone carving from the latter half of the 12th century depicting a man and a woman.

“It is an important part of our history but it is not known when it c ame to St Peter’s and should be on view to all.”

The carving is similar to other found across the country and in Ireland, is believed to pre-date Christianity and was once believed to be a symbol of fertility and fecundity. Women would touch them in the hope of getting pregnant or for help in childbirth.

Because of the nature of the carvings, some were later deliberately defaced or hidden from view as has been the case with the Moulton sheela.

“We had to get permission from church planners to put in our view,” said Bob. “I wanted to put it near the font,but that wasn’t allowed.”