Between Gargoyles and Grotesques

A lot of people get these two terms mixed up. Gargoyles are the strange creatures that loom out of the sides of old churches to channel water away from the building; their mouths/throats are lead lined to protect them from erosion. Grotesques are strange faces. The term originates from the faces and masks found when Herculaneum was first excavated in the early 18th century. Because they were found beneath the ground, they were included in English pleasure gardens, as part of underground grottoes, such as the famous one by Alexander Pope.

But I’ve just been to Salisbury Cathedral, where the famous western facade has a lot of male faces with their mouths open to allow water to run through them. They are beside windows and doorways, so they protect these entrances. But because they have no lead linings, they are often eroded.  So, are these early forms of gargoyles, or did architectural design go off in a different path here?






They seem to be needed because there is no space between the door and window arches that  deflect rainwater. Is this a medieval mason’s mistake or was it designed by masons who came from somewhere that rain was scarce? The faces are fascinating ,as they are all so varied, and some look like they are in pain. And they are all men. Were the masons carving each other?

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