Thirsk Church: Monsters and Gargoyles

Around the tower and nave of Thirsk Parish Church are over a dozen monstrous gargoyles. Although some of them are for containing downpipes so water may drain off the roof, the masons went to much trouble carving these grotesque and terrifying creatures. Although human faces are included, some of these carvings might have inspired the Alien franchise. My photos are poor, for having been taken on the zoomed lens of a mobile phone and then cropped, but sufficient detail there still is. 

Some depict winged demons (below):

Others, carnivorous creatures with sharp teeth and large mouths:

Some are like dragons:

others almost comical:

others not so comical:

Some appear cruel:

Scholars suggest that these horrible carvings were designed to deter the real thing from approaching. This seems a little counter-intuitive, as monsters are hardly likely to be scared of things that look just like them. Alternatively, the masons, or they that paid them, were keen to depict the spiritual battle taking place around and outside the church. The devils of hell will do all they can to deter men and women from worshipping the Creator and heeding His will. Though beyond our vision, battles are taking place to which the prophet Daniel alluded. Although it behoves us not to be overly concerned with such things, nor to meddle therewith, we ought to have an awareness and not be utterly ignorant of the powers and pricipalities in our midst.

And though this world, with devils filled,

should threaten to undo us,

we will not fear, for God has willed

his truth to triumph through us.

The prince of darkness grim,

we tremble not for him;

his rage we can endure,

for lo! his doom is sure;

one little word shall fell him.

-A Mighty Fortress, by Martin Luther