Thursday, 21 August 2014

bod and the wild boar

bod and the wild boar
(Updated July 2017 with a new Boar design - see end of article)

I have been woodcarving and making things for many years, but it was only about ten years ago that I 'discovered' stone carving. I immediately loved it, yet haven't indulged this passion anywhere near as much as I've wanted to.

Recently I've been a tad busy fulfilling commissions and stocking the website, but all the while, filtering into my dreams and subconscious thoughts, have come visions of dusting off my stone carving chisels again, and setting to....

Along came a day off......

Carved stone Pictish Boar
Boar by bod - black limestone with hand carved design based on the Pictish Knocknagael  and Dores Boar Stones from Inverness. ~ 270 x 165 x 20 mm

There is an 'eternity' and timelessness to carving in stone. I imagine this is partly due to the material itself: undoubtedly ancient, apparently immutable, staring back at us with a memory longer than our kind has walked the earth, with stories a plenty, I'm sure....but I suspect it is more than this...

Our greatest mysteries seem to have been expressed in stone, left for us to puzzle over. Stone embodies this sense of 'something else,' something we may have lost....if only we could retrieve it...

Of course this is just our perception. Those ancient craftsmen and women probably expressed themselves in all manner of materials, I just associate stone with them, as it survives the millennia.

This also is not lost on me, it is, I suppose, my reaching for my own kind of eternity, and also a closer link to those who have come before me.

Despite all this, I have the notion that, if I can express in stone, I can express in anything. Carving stone is a metaphor for me, a metaphor for the notion that 'anything is possible.'

I digress....back to my day off.....

Kim Traynor photo Dores Stone Pictish Boar
Dores Pictish Boar Stone Photo By Kim Traynor (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

I had a broken piece of black limestone that I decided was a perfect size for the design I had in mind, an adapted design based on a Pictish boar carving found in a field at Knocknagael Farm, on the outskirts of Inverness, which was moved in 1991 to the Highland Council's headquarters. The design is also very similar to a stone fragment found at Clune at Dores Inverness, dated from between 500 and 800 AD, which had been reused as a chimney-head.

So, I got out my tools, set out my design, and began....
Carved Boar design in process
Setting out....

The wild Boar was very important in the symbology of the Ancient Britons (Celts or Picts,) and researching this, the various attributes I discovered described by the various 'Symbology' sites cover several qualities: courage, fertility, wildness, stubbornness, fearlessness, strength, masculine power, shapeshifting, abundance, healing, otherworldly gifts....and I could go on. The attributes that began to concern me, however, were the qualities of wildness, fierceness, and stubbornness!

Pictish Boar Carving Process
I begin to appreciate the road ahead...

Very, very quickly, it was obvious that my wild Boar was going to fight me every step of the way in my attempts to birth him. The stone I had selected was the hardest stone I have ever worked. Very hard and very brittle - not a great combination! But, I had started, and, for all the reasons I gave above, I was not going to give up.

Pictish Boar Carving Process
Boar with broken tail

In the end, sore, dusty and weary, I did complete him. He ended up being carved a little deeper after I lost his tail, and I also decided that I would leave a 'rougher' finish than I had originally planned, in order to honour the battle we had had, by leaving some of its marks, (or should that read 'scars!')

Carved stone Pictish Boar

Normally I am very ambivalent when I finish a piece of work. I feel this stems from the amount of time much of my work takes, and the intensity that I bring to bear. I often have to 'turn away' from a piece for a period of time before I can really appreciate it. It is a very love/hate type of relationship.

Carved stone Pictish Boar

With Boar though, I feel different. I have a healthy appreciation for him, and myself. It was hard. Very hard. 

But I saw it through.

I hope you like Boar.

Thanks for reading!


Justbod Team
NB: I have deliberately not written much about the symbology and stories of the wild boar, and its importance to the people of these Isles, but it is a fascinating subject. If you would like to pursue it further I hope the sources below provide a good starting point.

Update July 2017

Due to many requests, and a longing to revisit him, Boar has been recreated and is now available in hand-cast bronze or aluminium versions, cast from an original sculpture by bod, and then set into a handcrafted oak plaque: 

Pictish Boar Wall Plaque: in Bronze or Silver
Pictish Boar Wall Plaque: in Bronze or Silver

 Visit our main website:

to browse bod's current works for sale:

Sculptures, Carvings & Artwork
~inspired by history & nature~

Unique Handcrafted Gifts in Wood from Justbod
A wee 'Selection Box'

You might also be interested in:

For regular updates on new products & special offers:

Sources and further information

Knocknagael Stone:  
Scotland's Places
Historic Scotland

Pictish Boar Dores, Inverness: 
National Museums Scotland

Pictish Stones and the Picts:
Pictish Stones 

Celtic Boar Symbology:
Celtic Wisdom
Symbol Dictionary
Trees for Life: Mythology and Folklore of the Wild Boar

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Ancient Carved Stones at St Hilda's, Ellerburn

 St Hildas Church Ellerburn

St Hilda's, Ellerburn, Near Thornton-le-Dale, Yorkshire.

This beautiful ancient church dates back to 1050AD, and there is evidence of an earlier structure dating back to at least 850AD. Dedicated to the first abbess of Whitby Abbey, it is by far the oldest church in the area.

Simple Wooden Cross, St Hildas, Ellerburn
A beautifully simple wooden cross adorns the porch

As well as being a quite charming little church, in an enchanting setting, its other interest lies in the multitude of pre-conquest stone-carved fragments set into its walls.

Carved cross in wall, St Hildas, Ellerburn
Carved cross fragment set in the wall

Most of the carvings date from the 9th and 10th centuries. 

Carved stone fragment in wall of St Hilda's, Ellerburn
Carved stone fragment set in the wall

A lovely interlaced design with a bound serpent below in the Scandinavian 'Jellinge' style, is particularly interesting.

Ornate Scandinavian 'Jellinge' cross fragment in wall, St Hildas, Ellerburn
Ornate Scandinavian 'Jellinge' cross fragment set in the wall

Other carvings are more enigmatic:

Carved stone St Hilda's, Ellerburn
Enigmatic Carved stone fragment incorporated into the wall

Carved stone St Hilda's, Ellerburn
Carved stone fragment set into the wall

The inside of the church is also beautiful, with a few more carvings, and an ancient font and altar stone.

St Hilda's, Ellerburn - interior
St Hilda's, Ellerburn - interior
Spiral carving on the piers supporting the Chancel Arch, St Hilda's, Ellerburn
Spiral carving on the piers supporting the Chancel Arch
St Hilda's, Ellerburn - interior - carved chancel piers
St Hilda's, Ellerburn - interior - carved chancel piers

St Hilda's, Ellerburn - interior - carved chancel piers
St Hilda's, Ellerburn - interior - carved chancel piers

St Hilda's, Ellerburn - interior
St Hilda's, Ellerburn - interior

Ellerburn is just a short distance from the beautiful Thornton-le-Dale, and is a lovely little hamlet set within a clearing, in a wooded valley, by Thornton beck.

St Hilda's, Ellerburn
St Hilda's, Ellerburn

Well worth a visit. There are several walks that lead by the church, and by foot is the best way to visit, both for the beauty of the area, and due to the limited parking available.

Thanks for reading!


Justbod Team
Pop over and visit our main site:

Artwork, carvings and sculptures
~inspired by history and nature~

Hand burnt Ancestors wood plaque by Justbod

For regular updates on new products and exclusive offers:

Sources and further reading:

Wikipedia Ellerburn
St Hilda's Church
Walk from Thornton-le-Dale to Ellerburn

Thursday, 7 August 2014

The Beautiful Medieval Wall Paintings of Pickering Parish Church

St Peter's and St Paul's Pickering Medieval Wall Paintings

St Peter's and St Paul's Church, Pickering, North Yorkshire contains the most complete set of medieval wall paintings in Britain, remarkable for their artistry, detail and state of 

St Peter's and St Paul's church, Pickering, Yorkshire

Commissioned over 500 years ago, probably about 1450, they remained hidden under a thick coat of plaster until they were rediscovered during restoration work in 1852.

St Peter's and St Paul's Pickering Medieval Wall Paintings

Virtually all churches in the Middle Ages had paintings on their walls, for both devotional and teaching purposes.

St Peter's and St Paul's Pickering Medieval Wall Paintings

 Up until the the late 15th century there were no printed books, and religious texts were few and far between. Coupled with this, most people were illiterate, and also unable to comprehend the language of religious services, which were mostly in Latin.

Paintings such as the ones at Pickering were referred to as 'Biblia Pauperum' - the poor man's Bible, and the parish priest would use them to teach his congregation about morality, the Bible and stories of the saints.


St Peter's and St Paul's Pickering Medieval Wall Paintings
St Peter's and St Paul's Pickering Medieval Wall Paintings

The North wall includes scenes of St George slaying a dragon, St Christopher carrying a Christ child, St John the Baptist being beheaded, the coronation of the Virgin Mary, the matyrdom of St Edmund, and the death of St Thomas Becket.

St Peter's and St Paul's Pickering Medieval Wall Paintings

On the South wall: scenes from the life of St Catherine of Alexandria, The Seven Acts of Mercy, several depictions of the Virgin Mary, the Passion and Crucifixion, the Descent into Hell and the Resurrection.

St Peter's and St Paul's church, Pickering, Yorkshire

As far as the general history of the Church goes, there was probably originally a Saxon church on the site - the bowl of the font is probably Saxon and their is the fragment of a Saxon cross at the back of the church. There are also stones from earlier phases incorporated into the walls of the church. 


The main church website speculates that the original church may well have been wasted during William's comprehensive 'Harrying of the North' as it was replaced by a Norman Church.

St Peter's and St Paul's Pickering earlier stones

Pickering  is a beautiful North Yorkshire market town and is well known as one of the main stations on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway. If you ever come to visit, don't forget to pop into the parish church, located on a rise at the top end of the High Street, quite near to the splendid Pickering Castle.

Thanks for reading!


Justbod Team  

Visit our main site

Artwork, Carvings & Sculpture
~inspired by a love of history & nature~