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The Dragon capital

12th century

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This is a column capital of Caen stone from the cloister arcade of Reading Abbey. The Abbey was founded by King Henry I in 1121. Carved stones from the cloister arcade were taken to the Borough Marsh beside the River Thames near Wargrave, Berkshire after the Dissolution of the Abbey in 1539. This is one of 15 Romanesque carved stones that were identified by Charles Keyser in 1900s after they had been moved from the Marsh to the gardens of Holme Park a few miles away at Sonning.

A capital is the piece of carved stone on top of a column that supports an arch. This capital features a band of decoration just below the flat top on three of its sides. The fourth side may have faced inwards away from the cloister walkway. Below this top band each face shows a pair of elegent s-shaped dragons, facing down, with their heads curved round to bite their front feet. The carving is two-dimensional but undercut so that the design stands out against a background in deep shadow. There are slight differences of detail between the four faces. The back surface is the best preserved, the other faces showing some general wear and small losses in the undercut areas.

Museum object number REDMG : 1992.114.1

See related topic: Reading Abbey

See related topic: Story of Reading Gallery