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