Mythological Creatures Series - Gargoyle
Credit - Gargoyle by Joseph VargoHi Guys,
Continuing our mythological creatures series today with gargoyles!
Essentially, a gargoyle is a grotesque carved figure with a human or animal face that projects from the corner of a wall or roof, typically to drain off water, specifically in Gothic architecture. The most notable examples are the gargoyles of Notre Dame.
Despite their somewhat terrifying appearance, the origins of the gargoyle are not what you would expect. Created in 13th century France, gargoyles were originally designed to help drain water from rooftops as mentioned above. A trough was cut through the back of the statue which lead to the open mouth of the gargoyle. In some cases, a pipe was threaded through. It is through their original use that the gargoyle happened to get its name. The word gargoyle is derived from the French word gargouille, which came from the noise created by water and air mixing in the gargoyle's throat. The size of the gargoyle also depended on how far the was projected, the longer the body, the farther the water went.
Now onto the good stuff...
Gargoyles do actually have another purpose. A French legend tells of Saint Romanus killing a dragon called La Gargouille, who would swallow ships and breathe fire and water, to save his country. After killing the dragon, the Saint attempted to burn the creatures body but the neck and head did not burn. La Gargouille's head was then mounted to a church and used to ward off evil spirits. Although this is actually a euphemism for converting pagans to Christianity as Saint Romanus only agreed to slay the dragon if those affected by the dragon converted to Christianity.
Some legends of gargoyles state that they can come to life in varying ways, including the following:
- Using wind and rain to communicate
- Coming to life to fend of evil
- Only coming alive at night
- Can still watch over places and people even if they are not moving
While the gargoyles as we know them come from the middle ages, the practice of using carved animals as drainage spout décor dates back even further, all the way back to at least the Ancient Egyptians but they were prevelent in other pagan/none Christian places.
Unfortunately, if you ever come across a living gargoyle, I have nothing to tell you on how to defend yourself as the internet will only tell me how to defeat one in Dark Souls or Elden Ring, but video games often take lore from real life myths so pay attention next time you face one in the fantasy realm.
I think we'll leave that there! Next time you see a gargoyle, see if you can spot it moving....