picardie_pierrefonds4_tango7174
Gargoyle on the 12th century Chateau de Pierrefonds in Oise, Picardy, France. Photo via Wikimedia Commons by Tango7174 (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0)%5D.
Most of the time, gargoyles perform their function as gutters by sticking out from the side of a building and diverting water horizontally. This gargoyle on the 12th-century Chateau de Pierrefonds in France has a different approach. He sends water downward as his long body slithers down the castle wall. I’m not sure if he is an alligator, crocodile, enormous lizard, or some sort of dragon-like creature, but his wide-open mouth full of sharp teeth is quite menacing.

*Update* A reader on Facebook has informed me that the Chateau de Pierrefonds was restored in the nineteenth century by the famous Gothic Revivalist Eugene Viollet-le-Duc, due to the heavy damage the castle received during the French Revolution. Gargoyles on buildings restored by Viollet-le-Duc are notoriously difficult to date, as he placed many of his own design beside the medieval originals. It’s unclear whether this gargoyle is twelfth-century or nineteenth-century, but the design is equally ingenious either way.

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