variety of diverse forms is to be seen that it is more
attractive to peruse the marbles than the books, and to spend a whole day
in gazing on them, rather than meditating on the law of God."
Again, the anonymous writer of Pictor in Carmine, a
collection of types and antitypes for the use of painters, prefers the
contemplation of the deeds of the patriarchs and of the ceremonies of the
law to the use of representations of animal fables and curious
monstrosities round the altar of God.1
I am convinced that the sculptor’s object in carving these
scenes was on the whole to ornament the fabric rather than to edify the
congregation. He has no consistent educational plan. If he gives the signs
of the Zodiac, he will usually be tired before he has carved them all. If
he makes extracts from the Bestiaries, he will capriciously choose a few
subjects, and then pass on to some other fancy. That he did use the
Bestiary subjects has been conclusively proved. Yet even on the South
doorway at Alne, Yorkshire, where some of the animals are inscribed with
their Bestiary names, others are not so identified, while others again are
Bestiary subjects at all.
The artist did not always care, perhaps did not always know,
what he was carving provided that it filled the space to his satisfaction.
I doubt whether anyone even of the craftsmen’s contemporaries, could
fully interpret an elaborate doorway. Educationally the opportunity was
largely lost; aesthetically, the opportunity was finely used. The Norman
doorways are one of the glories of the country.
If the above views are accepted, then the reader will look
for no consecutive scheme of arrangement at Barfreston.
The label above the whole is covered with foliage based on
the acanthus. Below on the outer order, are beads which are discontinued
on the top voussoir. Then on the same stones as the beadwork follow
fourteen medallions all containing human figures. Each subject with its
framework fills an arch stone, and the arch stones are fairly even
1 I am indebted to the Provost of Eton
for the foregoing