Samson and the lion tympanum.

Image of the feature "Miscellaneous: Samson and the Lion tympanum" at Stretton Sugwas.

photographer not known.

This is now set over the interior door to the N vestry. It is of Old Red sandstone, pale grey in colour, and monolithic except for an inserted section of the label at top R that is probably a repair. It is round headed but rather taller than a semicircle and not regularly curved, with a section at the upper L that is almost straight-edged. The carving is in very bold relief. The recessed central field carries the figure of the lion, passant and in L profile, its mouth forced open by Samson to reveal two rows of pointed, interlocking teeth and a long fleshy tongue lolling out. Its mouth is emphasised by a groove around the lips and the eye is oval and undrilled, surrounded by an almond-shaped lid. It the back of the head a small ear is shown. The mane extends from the neck to the shoulders and down the chest to the forelegs. It is shown by curved tufts of hair in horizontal rows. The rest of the body and the legs are plain with no surface texture. The legs have long claws, and the tail rises and curves back over the back, terminating in a thicker brush high above the centre of the back, immediately behind Samson’s head. The groundline on which it walks is a row of single cable extending the full width of the block, between the label stops. Samson is a comparatively small figure who rides on the lion, as on a horse, with straight legs that do not reach the ground. He is shown in profile with his unnaturally long, thin arms curving to grip the upper and lower jaws of the lion. He wears a knee-length, belted tunic, and both tunic and belt are reeded in parallel pleats. The tight sleeves have similar reeding running down the biceps, but on the forearms the reeding encircles the arm. The sleeves flare out at the wrists. Samson has long straight hair to his waist, falling in a single tress behind his head. His eye is bulging and undrilled, with a brow ridge, his nose is long, straight and flat, and he has a moustache and a pointed beard. The recessed field carrying the figures is surrounded by a roughly hollow-chamfered integral label that terminates in human head stops at each end. The male L head is broad and long with vertical cheeks and a round jaw. The hairline is horizontal with traces of hair carved as oblique parallel reeding. The feature are small and sit in the centre of the face: a triangular nose, oval undrilled eyes with lids above and below and prominent eyebrows, and a small, straight mouth. The R head is smaller and triangular with well-shaped cheeks and a pointed chin. It may be female. At the crown of the head there may be a cap or fillet, and the hair is seen behind the neck.


h. of block 0.95 m
w. of block 1.54 m