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Agnus Dei, in a Ouroboros, Duxford, Cambridgeshire : (‡CCT) ?Late C.12

Photo:T.Marshall Agnus Dei, in a <i>Ouroborous</i> Duxford [St. John's church

Undoubtedly the most intriguing of the many paintings at Duxford St. John, this is on the soffit (underside) of an arch between the nave and chancel - you will have to look up, above your head, to see it. Until now, I had always taken the roundel framing the painting to be simply that - a roundel. But on closer inspection it is in fact the Ouroboros symbol - a snake swallowing its tail - one of the most ancient symbols anywhere, and long pre-dating Christianity or for that matter, Judaism. Try this Wikipedia entry for more information.

At the very least, this argues for a thoroughly scholarly incumbent in the High Middle Ages at Duxford, but given the town’s proximity to Cambridge that is not surprising.

More information will follow, as I find it, but Duxford St. John is turning out to be one of the most deeply interesting medieval English churches - it was once, long ago, associated with ‘black magic’, and I wonder more and more about the origins of this tarring with the occultism brush. Attracting the wrong kind of attention by pursuing arcane studies - neoplatonism, hermeticism and the like - could be an occupational hazard for medieval clergy of a speculative inclination.

Other on-site paintings at Duxford are a possible Warning to Sabbath Breakers and a fine Martyrdom of St. Margaret, both of which have been here for some time.

And a clearer, crisper, photograph of the Agnus Dei/Ouroborus will be here before long, I hope.

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© Anne Marshall, August 10 2012