Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Medieval Bird Scarer, Stanton St. John, Oxfordshire.

This is the church of St John the Baptist Church in Stanton St. John, Oxfordshire. The church dates back to the 12th century although it been altered and added to over the passing centuries. 
St John the Baptist Church

Of particular interest in the church is a stained glass window, located on the south wall of the church, made up of several pieces of glass from various different periods. One piece displays the arms of de Clare family, perhaps most famous for building Caerphilly castle.
Arms of de Clare family
Below the Clare arms is shown the funeral of the Virgin Mary and the actions of a certain Jephonias. He attempted the overturn the coffin but became stuck fast. After a quick prayer to St Peter he was released and can be seen falling to the ground.
Bird Scarer
At the bottom of the window is a small circular piece of glass that is easily overlooked. It was only when a friendly local asked if I'd seen the 'Bird Scarer' that I went back for a closer look.

This image dates from the 14th century and is thought to depict a scene from the ' Labours of the Months' where we can see an agricultural worker engaged in the scaring off seed eating birds, probably in April during the planting season.

However, to my modern eye, armed with a sword and butler he seems quite overly equipped just to chase off any pests that are trying to eat his crops. If he is simply a humble bird scarer then I must admit he's very effective at his job, as you will notice there is a distinct lack of birds in the image.