I am not even sure how we saw them hidden there in the shadows beneath the altar. I do know we would never have seen them had we not been looking at the unusual cross-fleury on the floor. The mosaic had already intrigued us with its scattering of roses and fleur de lys, before we realised that the altar table had been moved from its original position against the east wall of the church. It now stood a few feet away from the wall, effectively hiding the vine-wreathed cross.
Now, we may have been known to lift the skirts of the altar from time to time, but we draw the line at moving the altars themselves, just to get a better shot. So we did the best we could… and it was then that we saw the stones.
I have no idea who they belong to…apart from the church itself… nor who the artist may be, but I fell in love with them there and then.
We see faces in standing stones and the great boulders that strew the prehistoric landscape and have written often enough of our conviction that what we can see through modern eyes, our ancestors, closer to the land than we, would have seen even more readily. Whoever worked with these two small stones can obviously see the life in the stone too.
The stones in question are just two bits of rough local sandstone. The contours and natural colouration of the stones have been carefully enhanced… partly by scratching the surface and partly …well, I’m not even sure how they’ve done it. One is a work in progress, the other is a work of art.
It shows the Nativity, complete with a watchful sheep. So carefully has the worn stone been worked that it is almost impossible to say what is the handiwork of the craftsman and what is the work of the Artist. Holding that stone in my hand, I was reminded of the kinship of the act of loving creation that brings man and divinity very close.