Studio Practice 2B Final Selection 2015 Archaeological, Architectural and Visual Study Celtic Symbolism and other religious symbols


Studio Practice 2B – Final Selection with Analysis and Titles

The aim of this body of work was to represent Celtic or other religious symbols from an archaeological, architectural and visual narrative/perspective. Each image is not part of a collection, although overall a book will be written on the subject (three chapters have been completed already – see SP and T&P folder for reference, aswell as separate respective folders on Bradford Cathedral, The Chantry Chapel at Wakefield, Wakefield Cathedral and a folder entitled ”others” which contains a considerable amount of research on other churches in the area. I have not made any attempt to single out one particular church at this stage, the only premise I have followed is if there were of particular interest to myself or they fit into the demographic area of study. This list I have created and the research task I have set myself is not exhaustive therefore. The focus has been to pick up and highlight archaeological and architectural interest in these often neglected buildings that are somehow still valiantly treasured. It is true to say that I have a passion for the landscape but whenever I point my camera in its direction, I am often overcome with a love of the church within that landscape and I am fascinated with the symbology that are always attached to them. This is a tiny contribution to a lifelong commitment to promote and help to sustain their imagery on the landscape and to pass on what limited understanding I have when interpreting what the symbols mean. Today, our cultural history is embroiled, part of those images, so much so that we tend to overlook them and in God’s Own Country of Yorkshire there is a strong reflection of what has become our national heritage. It is up to us to protect and preserve the beauty that surrounds us.


In looking at and examining a range of churches and cathedrals in the area I have been able to establish two things. Firstly, I have demonstrated that there is a plethora of symbols, Celtic and otherwise, some even Pagan, that tell a story of our cultural and religious heritage when these images are examined collectively. Secondly that each individual building has significant archaeological, architectural and aesthetically pleasing qualities that one could devote many years of photographic and academic study. The images are but a fragment of the historic and religously significant symbol that puts Yorkshire well and truly on the map and statistically holds fascination to locals and international interest. From the Bronte connection at Dewsbury to the Priestley connection at Bradford from the fascinating work by the staff at the West Yorkshire Archaeological Advisory Service (to whom I am indebted) to the Anglo Saxon and Roman Fort at Ilkley our county is one to be proud of and I hope that through the privilege of being able to capture the region from an aesthetic, archaelogical and architectural perspective some of that knowledge and feelings of interest will rub off on you.

My ultimate goal is to write a book on the subject and to hold a variety of exhibitions (one of which is planned for 2016) having written three chapters my focus will continue to write over the Summer and to document the other churches and abbeys I currently have on my list and expand my research by creating an in depth folder for each accompanied with a strong visual narrative to encourage the public to engage with these archaeological and architectural significant buildings and to complete a tourism based study which reflects the region positively.


Celtic Cross at Dewsbury

f7.1 1/80th 100 ISO 85mm

An intricate 14th century Celtic Cross

Example of trefoil moulding

7.1 1/80th ISO 100 85mm

Trefoil detail suggest 18th century

Mary - shadow and light - Chantry Chapel Wakefield

f7.1 1/320 100

Intricate stone carving at the Chantry Chapel at Wakefield – the crypt being the oldest part and dates back to the 12th century complete with cobwebs in the tiny slat windows and the tight round staircase where I was given a guided tour.

Detailing on the tower at Wakefield

f7.1 1/400 ISO 100

hand carved sundial and intricate – stilted arch dormers with crocketted pinnacles and finials

string courses and niche with battlements are also represented

The Dragon and the Tower - Bradford Cathedral

f/10 0.50 100

How would you believe that a dragon could be part of the carvings at Bradford Cathedral – from the Yorkshire Rose represented in the kneelers (symbolic of the county and of Mary) to a stone carving of Leeds/Liverpool canal, (near the North door and is a memorial to Joseph Priestley) the cathedral is full of symbols including a site marked (embedded into the wall near the William Morris Window) is a pre conquest cross.

Space for Private Contemplation

f5.6 1/20 ISO 100

A time for quiet contemplation

Dogtooth moulding - entrance to Ilkley

f5.6 1/250 ISO 100

Anglo Saxon presence in the dog tooth moulding at Ilkley where there is a Saxon cross and presence of a Roman Fort

stone of construction at Ilkley

f5.6 1/250 100ISO 85mm

Ashlar stone reflected in the sunlight

Two crosses and a weather station

f5.6 1/500 ISO100 85mm

An trinitarian approach? (two crosses and the flag mast/weather vane) with perpendicular or panel tracery showing an equilateral arch – the cockerel on the weather vane is a symbol for vigilence and is also attributed to St. Peter

St Paulinus

f5.6 1/500 ISO100 85mm

St. Paulinus (AD627: preached at Dewsbury and credited with bringing Christianity to Yorkshire – known then as part of Northumberia – below King Oswin who with the help of St. Aidan began the Christian Movement in this country – where they focused on Celtic Christianity rather than Roman Christianity..

proving that there is a conflict of interest (i.e. Roman to Celtic) in existence today in a tiny but rather special parish church in Ilkley

King Oswin of Northumberia

f5.6 1/500 ISO 100 85mm

Spring Flowers at Ilkley an Ancient Roman Fort

f5.6 1/400th ISO 100 85mm

Symbolic of the Resurrection, New Life, Hope… Spring eternal

Cetlic Cross

f5.6 1/640th ISO 100 85mm

Graveyard at Addingham – ancient examples of a plaited cross (see below) – Celtic and the stone cross above which dates pre-conquest

Ribbon carving - celtic cross Addingham

f5.6 1/320 ISO 100

Bolton Abbey Ruins1132 a part of Bolton Abbey that has crumbled away – the stones lie in disarray – does this affect you as a photograph? – do you consider it to be beautiful? A conservation preservation? or a neglected ruin?

Bridge at Bolton Abbey

f7.1 1/250 ISo 100

Symbolic water, light, shade and sun reflections and refractions

Statue near the Temple of Piety

f5.6 1/250 ISO 100

A statue at Fountains Abbey located in the area of Studley Royal and the Water Gardens – reflected in the sunlight.

The Light of the World

f5.6 1/15 ISO 100

The Warming House, Fountains Abbey – lots of photographers travel here just to take this picture – therefore it is symbolic – what does it represent to you? Is it about capturing the light within the composition or does the cross have special significance?

Demonstrating a groin vault with transverse ribs

St Paulinus

f7.1 1/320 ISO 100

Part of a matching pair – Mary Magdalen is represented on one side and on the other St. Paulinus

a fallen cross

f7.1 1/80 ISO 100

Is it right that our cultural/religious heritage should lay abandoned and forgotten or is this a romantic, nostalgic symbol intended to make the viewer think?

Trefoil embellishment

f7.1 1/320, ISO 100

The hand carved sandstone and trefoil design (representing the trinity)

Statues at the Temple of Piety

f5.6 1/250 ISO 100

Are you rich or poor, powerful or not, strong or weak?

A Walk inbetween the light and shade

f5.6 1/50 ISO 100

It isnt getting there that is important, but the journey itself

Sunlight on a yellow dress

f5.6 1/1000 ISO 100

in the shadow of the sun and the abbey a girl stands in a yellow dress sun shining on her – representative of a sunny day when the world seems right and the girl is out having fun. The composition is mindful of a traditional landscape painting.

A Walk over the Stones

f6.3 1/1250 ISO 100

are you brave enough to step out over the stones on such an idyllic day?

The Piscine

f6.3 1/640 ISO 100

A piscine – which was a hole in the wall bascially so that the monks and visitors to the abbey could wash themselves prior to going into chapel for prayer

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