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When and why were gargoyles and grotesques created?

When were they made?

Gargoyles and grotesques are examples of Gothic architecture, which was a building style that had its origins in medieval France.

In England, most gargoyles and grotesques were created in what is called the English Gothic period, which was a style of medieval architecture that originated here in the county of Gloucestershire around the year 1200 and lasted until about 1540.

Many new gargoyles and grotesques were made in the Victorian period, 1837-1901, thanks to a building-style called "Gothic Revival".


Why were they made?

We just don't know! No-one ever wrote down why they wanted gargoyles on their building!

Over 700 years ago, in the year 1275, a monk called Bernard who was famous for building big abbeys and churches wrote a note saying that even he didn't know why they were made!

There are several theories as to why gargoyles were put on religious buildings:

  • To scare away evil spirits and protect the church and the community!
  • To show the fate that lay ahead for sinners who strayed from the church or did bad or did nasty things in their life!
  • Sometimes the early Christian church adopted local gods, placing images of them on their churches to help win over the local population.
  • To help with teaching Christianity - images of familiar local pagan deities could more easily teach its christian message to people who could not read and write.
  • Or maybe just for fun!

Why do you think they were made?