Notes about Sheila na Gig at Kilpeck – (Poem is not on website)
A brief note appears below, to set the poem in context for A-level Literature students. I will add a Q & A section if suitable questions arise.
The ‘Sheila na Gig’ is a Celtic fertility figure carved, in this case, as a corbel stone which is part of a frieze of beautiful carved figures running round the eaves of Kilpeck Church, on the Welsh Borders of Herefordshire. I take a personal, female view of the figure, and consider the bodily upheavals of the birthing mother. In her case, of course, she is a fertility goddess and therefore responsible for all fruitfulness. Inside every woman there is a ‘clock’ regulating menstruation, pregnancy, menopause. I imagine it as a little golden clock, a miraculous mechanism made of perfectly turning gold cogs. There are many symbols of sexuality and birth in the poem.