Carved Church Figure
Braunston, Rutland OS Map Ref SK83250659
OS Maps - Landranger 141 (Kettering & Corby), Explorer 234 (Rutland Water)
In the churchyard of All Saint's Church in Rutland is a strange carved stone figure. Its original purpose and age are unknown and for many years it was buried face down and used as a doorstep for the church before being rediscovered and re-errected in the 1920's.
The figure is thought to represent a grotesque female form and could be interpreted as a church gargole but this seems unlikely. What is interesting is the fact that the churchyard is built on a raised circular mound and this may indicate a previous pagan sacred area. The carving could therefore represent some form of Iron Age or Romano-Celtic goddess figure that once stood on the site. When this sacred area was 'Christianised' the carving may have been incorporated into the church to try to encourage the local inhabitants to attend the early Christian meeting place.
If there was such a church here it has now been lost to history. The first recorded church on this spot dates from the time of the Normans with a second building replacing it in the 14th century before it too was demolished in 1848 and the material reused in the building of the present church. During one of these building phases the figure could have been symbolically and literally 'cast down' to form the door step, with further insult being added by being walked over by the feet of the pious churchgoers.
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