IMG_0447In a previous post I outlined some preliminary ideas regarding the West Kirby hogback, now housed in St Bridget’s church and part of a wider collection of Viking-Age sculpture that can be viewed in the adjacent West Kirby Museum. I had previously discussed the West Kirby hogback (West Kirby 4) as a possible rushed or ‘failed’ monument at the Istanbul EAA conference in September 2014 as discussed here.

Last night I gave a talk to the Merseyside Archaeological Society about my latest thinking regarding the hogback. I should say ‘hogbacks’ since there is another stone fragment from the site which could be part of a second hogback.

I began by reviewing my forthcoming articles which explore the architectural significance of hogbacks and their relationship to the broader material world of the Viking Age. I then outlined, as a significant advance on my EAA talk, my latest arguments about the odd nature of this hogback, situated as it is on the very south-west of the core distribution of hogbacks in North Lancs., Cumbria and Yorkshire.

Despite being subject to later damage, I proposed 5 new/revised arguments about the hogback:

  1. expanding on points made by Lang and Bailey, I explored the significance of the quartz sandstone from which the hogback is composed,
  2. the distinctive form and ornament of the hogback was outlined, including possible parallels but the lack of a single clear similar monument known elsewhere,
  3. the presentation discussed the possible presence of end-beasts on the hogback, now largely lost,
  4. the ‘sloping’ nature of the decoration was observed,
  5. the asymmetries of the monument were discussed.

Together, I suggested that these dimensions supported Lang’s argument that this was a ‘sloppy’ monument. However, the same evidence can be interpreted in different ways, and I moved forward to suggest some less dismissive interpretations for the monument.

I really appreciated the invitation and attention of the Merseyside Archaeological Society and I had insightful and helpful questions. My aim is now, inspired by this positive local reception, to pen an article about the hogback.

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