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