The Green Man In The Churches Of France And Britain

Tina Negus is a writer, artist and photographer with a tremendous knowledge and love of the natural world.  Her work has been exhibited and published in a wide variety of venues and publications.  Her articles on aspects of the Green Man have been published in Folklore magazine, where Lady Raglan first described and named the genre in 1937.

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From Roman To Romanesque By Julianna Lees


NB – This article contains many illustrations and may take some time to download.

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“The Survival Of Roman Antiquities In The Middle Ages”

Professor Michael Greenhalgh is the Sir William Dobell Professor of Art History at the Australian National University, Canberra, Australia

Among his numerous publications is this book which he has made available online.  It is an invaluable resource for students of Medieval Art History


Daniel In The Den Of Lions By Tina Negus

Early Medieval Carvings and their Origins.

 "Your God himself, whom you have served so faithfully, will have to save you" (Book of Daniel, chapter 6, verse 16. Jerusalem Bible).    

These words, spoken by King Darius the Mede as he had the prophet Daniel thrown into the den of lions for the crime of refusing to worship him, have echoed down the centuries.  Daniel’s God did indeed save him, and ever since he has been taken as an example of faith and righteousness, together with Jonah and the three young men in the fiery furnace. His trust in the Lord and his innocence are seen as a protection against evil. It is not surprising therefore, that images of Daniel are found from the earliest years of Christianity, until medieval times; indeed Daniel may be taken as a prefigurement of Christ Himself.


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Romanesque Sculpture Of The Pilgrimage Roads By Arthur Kingsley-Porter, Vol.1

This is the first volume of: "Romanesque Sculpture of the Pilgrimage Roads" by Arthur Kingsley-Porter, (1923).  It was downloaded courtesy of Toronto University who have made it available on line.  This ten-volume work is no longer in copyright.  Arthur Kingsley-Porter, an American art historian, (1883-1933), was born in Stamford, Connecticut, and taught at Yale (1915-1919) and Harvard (1920-1933).  His life was cut short by a tragic accident in Ireland, where he owned Glenveagh Castle, Donnegal. 

Among Kingsley-Porter’s other works are, "Medieval Architecture: its Origins and Development", 1909, "Lombard Architecture" (4 volumes), 1919 and "Spanish Romanesque Sculpture" (2 volumes), 1928.

He is now, perhaps, best known as a pioneer of Art History in America, and as the mentor and guide of Meyer Schapiro.

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French Gothic Sculpture – A Short Introduction

This is the text, with slide titles used for my half-hour introduction to French Gothic Sculpture for the Winter Study Group of An Aquitaine Historical Society at Montagrier on 24 November, 2009. This short talk followed an introduction to Gothic Architecture by Kit Rees-Evans. Most of the photographs are my own, but a few were taken by friends and – where necessary – I have borrowed a few from the Internet. The music used was Gregorian Chant from the CD, "Quand le chant Gregorien s appelait chant Messin".

To see the slides, please click below:


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On The Origins Of Ecclesiastical Vestments

This PDF version of "Ecclesiastical Vestments, their development and History", by R A S Macalister, MA was published in London in 1896.  He wrote it at the age of 26, and died in 1950.  This edition comes courtesy of the University of Princeton, New Jersey.  I have been using it in an attempt to answer the question of the origins of early medieval court dress and clothing of the educated classes.  Is the development from Roman apparel of late antiquity via Byzantium in the East or Rome or Gaul in the West?

This question is the result of an attempt to consider the origin of the Nazareth Master, thought by Professor Jaroslav Folda and some other art historians to have been a native of Palestine removed by several generations from his European forebears; by others he is thought to be a "Frenchman", possibly from Burgundy, Vienne or the Ile de France, on stylistic grounds.  The Apostles and saints sculpted on the Nazareth capitals are portrayed in a variety of garments that are not easy to equate with a particular time or place though the tunics with embroidered collars may be compared to similar ones on capitals from Toulouse and especially to the statue-colonne of St Thomas by Gilabertus, 1140-60.  A close reading of chapters 2-5 offers some clues.

Please see also,


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Animal Symbolism In Ecclesiastical Architecture By Professor E P Evans

We are always hoping to get closer to the mindset of Romanesque sculptors, the better to understand some of their images.  Bestiaries may be helpful, so it’s useful to know that most of them are derived from a work of the 4thc called the Physiologus.   The late Professor E P Evans of the Universities of  Michigan andMunich wrote this article in 1896, but I think it is still relevant and full of useful information.

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Monumental Georgian Sculpture – V-Xi Century Bas-Reliefs By Dr Natela Aladashvili

It is not easy for Westerners to obtain much information on line about Romanesque and pre-Romanesque sculpture in the East apart from those in the Byzantine Empire.This article gives detailed information about sculpture from a number of churches in Georgia with some useful photographs.

“In the eleventh and twelfth century,Georgia was a powerful state, active in the political and cultural life of  Asia Minor…it was a fruitful epoch and there was a brilliant upsurge in every sphere of life. The fine arts flourished, monumental mural cycles decorated the churches, manuscripts were illustrated and richly illuminated, and wonderful chasing, especially on gold, were made.”- Dr Natela Aladashvili

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The Church Of St Michel D’Entraygues Near Angouleme

This article was written by Charles Daras, then President of the Société Archéologique et Historique de la Charente in 1969.  It is reproduced by kind permission of the Society.  Charles Daras wrote the Zodiaque volume on the Angoumois, and published his article in it.

Contrary to popular assumption, the church of St Michel was never associated with the Templars despite its unusual, clover-leaf shape.  In fact, it was built to receive pilgrims on the way to Compostela.  The only sculptured capital inside the church represents three heads of Green Men with horns.  This was the work of Paul Abadie (1812-1884).


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Celtic Religion

While researching my article on possible Roman and Gallo-Roman iconography for some French Romanesque images, I became aware of the importance of Celtic religion in the evolution of many works of art of ancient France.  Here is an article I wrote on the subject, originally for a Study Group of the Aquitaine Historical Society, which foreshadows may of my later observations.

The organic growth of iconography, layer upon layer, can be compared to the evolution of a forest from archaic origins, with all the damage both natural and human that occurs.  Landscapes change – sometimes unrecognisably – with many things once held dear obscured and forgotten; but tendrils creep back, images recur and echoes may awaken memories of a past that is sometimes still present.

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From Jean-Louis Laignelot, Captain Of The French Navy (Retd)

Captain Laignelot is a Renaissance Man, bi-lingual and capable of painting, restoring houses, making and playing violins, and 101 other things!  He has kindly lent his map of Cercles in 1777 and a water colour he made of Cercles Church for the Limodore Orchid Park. 

Two Well-Travelled Motifs: Three Hares And Cintamani: Part One, Three Hares With Ears In Common

THE FAMOUS SYMBOL OF THREE HARES can be seen as a representation of the Holy Trinity and is found in Christian churches in many parts of Europe as well as in ancient Buddhist temples. What is surprising is the close juxtaposition of the Three Hares and the Green Man in Wissembourg in Alsace and Throwleigh in Devon as well as in other locations.  Did the motif start in the Far East, as is generally believed, or did it start in Persia or the Middle East and travel full circle before returning to Europe?

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Two Well-Travelled Motifs: Three Hares And Cintamani: Part Two, Cintamani

THE SYMBOL OF THE TRIPLE-DOTS or CINTAMANI can also be seen as representing the Holy Trinity and, like the "Three Hares" symbol, is at home in Christian churches as it is in ancient Buddhist temples.  Parallel to the story of the circuitous route of the "Three Hares" motif and its transformation, the story of the cintamani is another enduring decoration that has travelled great distances in time, space and cultures.

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The Capitals Of The Crusader Church At Nazareth And At Plaimpied-Givaudins, Bourges

Five Romanesque capitals were found in Nazareth in 1908.  They were never used but had been buried, probably to preserve them from Saladin, in 1187.  They depict scenes from the lives of Jesus and the Apostles: SS Peter, Thomas, James and Matthew.  There are also representations of the Church as Ecclesia, and of devils of different kinds.  It is thought by many that the capitals were made by a French sculptor who also worked at Plaimpied-Givaudins, near Bourges, while others believe the Nazareth Master was born in the Latin Kingdom.


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Further Notes On Details Of The Nazareth Capitals

In order to understand the work of the Maitre de Plaimpied better I have been deconstructing the pictures I took of the “Temptation” capital at Plaimpied and of the Nazareth Capitals.  I have looked first at Whole Bodies, then at Heads, Hands, Feet, Halos, Hair, Clothes, Artefacts and Architectural Canopies.  Where it seemed appropriate I have looked at Possible Influences.

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Are Harpies Sirens?

 According to the notice, the tomb of Kybernis in the British Museum, dating from about 480 BC, has long been known as the Harpy Tomb after the female-headed birds on the four corners.  The British Museum uses the terms "Harpy" and "Siren" interchangeably, as though they were the same thing.  But are they? 


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Green Men And Sirens At St Michel D’Aiguilhe


The chapel of St Michel d’Aiguilhe, high above Le Puy en Velay, has a marvellous façade where Green Men spew an arc of vegetation with more Green Men among foliage in the spandrels standing upon foliate masks.  They surround an unusual pair of sirens on the lintel.  This 12th-century chapel of St Michael the Archangel was implanted – as so often with churches dedicated to St Michael – on a pagan shrine of a Gallo-Roman Mercury.  Such places are normally found on heights, and are among the earliest Christian emplacements. 

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Naked And Clothed Among Foliage

CAN WE DRAW ANY INFERENCES  from the sculptures of clothed and naked men among foliage in the church of Saint Jacques de Conzac, in the Charente?  This church, with many Green Man sculptures of exceptional quality may provide clues for the interpretation of certain images.

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A Green Man Variant? Beasts Emerging From Mouth Or Ears – And Sirens!

Sculptures from France, England, Germany and Italy with monsters emerging from mouth or ears, form a linked unity that mirrors the Green Man image.  In the Dauphiné, a series of frescos in the Abbey Church of Saint Chef show similar images linked to representations of sirens that are found in Romanesque sculpture and other media.  In Italy we can see similar images in mosaic.  Perhaps the source for all these images may be traced to Roman mosaics representing the god Okeanos.

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Tree Nose Green Men

TREE NOSES : Sometimes a head appears to have a tree on its forehead. It seems that the Tree Nose is a simplified version of “the face made of leaves”, and as such, qualifies to be a foliate head or Green Man.

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.The Work Of Peter Hubert

This section comprises three groups of articles. The first group makes up a detailed exposition of the sculptures of St Cybard, Cercles, in the Dordogne.  There is a plan of the church to enable you to identify the sculptures when you visit and a flow chart showing the various influences that led to the Green Man of Romanesque sculpture.

The study of the church led to a much wider study of Romanesque architecture and sculpture. The results of that work are contained in the second and third groups of articles. The second group is a series of short illustrated articles on some aspects of Romanesque architecture and sculpture.

These articles are the result of personal visits of an amateur art historian to the places discussed in the articles.The sculptures were studied and assessments were then made that took account of expert opinion expressed in media that is available to the academic world but is not generally or readily available to the amateur.

The last and largest group is a series of short descriptions of all the Romanesque churches that Peter has visited in France and Spain. The notes are set out region by region for France followed by those for Spain.


If you have any constructive comments or suggestions to make on the articles please email  hubert*pj@wanadoo*fr (note that you must replace the asterisk or star ( * ) with a stop( .)