Architecture · Art History · Gargoyles · Nerd Candy

Fantastic Beasts (Oh Look, I Found One)

 

Basilisk carving on Amiens Cathedral façade. Bridaham, Lester Burbank. The Gargoyle Book: 572 Examples from Gothic Architecture. Mineola, NY: Dover Publications, 2006. Page 9.
Bridaham, Lester Burbank. The Gargoyle Book: 572 Examples from Gothic Architecture. Mineola, NY: Dover Publications, 2006. Page 9.

Harry Potter fans (such as myself) will certainly enjoy this basilisk grotesque carved into the façade of Amiens Cathedral in France. It is interesting that the basilisk (or cockatrice) of medieval legend looks almost nothing like the one described in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, but its other characteristics and the deadly effects of its stare are identical. As a nerdy bonus, here is a great article from the Smithsonian Magazine about the history of the basilisk legend.

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8 thoughts on “Fantastic Beasts (Oh Look, I Found One)

  1. Hi Alex. Excellent article and post, thanks. In an instance of spooky serendipity I completed conservation work on a mid C17 domestic wall painting that may (or may not!) depict a basilisk on the very day your post arrived in my inbox. We were – and still are – unsure of the subject matter, but it contains remains of a cockerel, a snake and 2 brown animals that we thought may be foxes but, if it was indeed a basilisk, then they could be weasels – according to the legend. Unfortunately, the cockerel and snake elements are on a different (and later) layer than the weasels (if that is what they are); although that could simply mean a repainting of the same scheme – not uncommon in English wall painting. Anyway, it has given me considerable food for thought as I write my treatment report, especially as I am hard-pressed at the moment to think of another example of a wall painting of a basilisk in wall painting. Perhaps your readership knows of others…..?
    Thanks again.

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