Saxon Sculpture at Breedon-on-the-Hill, Leicestershire

The ancient priory church of St. Mary & St. Hardulph at Breedon-on-the-Hill contains "the largest known collection of Anglo-Saxon frieze and architectural carving known in the United Kingdom....the cream of known carving from the 8th-9th centuries". Some of it has been in place since the current building was erected in the 12th century, other pieces were removed from the demolished nave at the Dissolution and eventually displayed in their present location in 1937. There is some sixty-three feet of largely floral and geometric wall frieze designed to run in parallel strips around both the inside and outside of the preceding Saxon Minster. It would once have been brightly coloured. Slightly larger frieze-work is made up of 'inhabited vine scrolls' featuring birds, mythological beasts and human figures, including huntsmen. Chief amongst this sculpture, however, are the panelled figures under arches, probably Saxon saints. The most famous is the 'Breedon Angel,' a spectacular example of the sculptor's art with distinct Byzantine influences. There are also some remains of carved Saxon crosses.

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