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Lions in Insular British Artwork, 650-1000 AD


Lee Raye

Cardiff UniversityNone
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This paper identifies and examines six peculiarly insular-British features of the imago leonis. These are the absence of the evangelist, a red or gold colour, the frequent absence of wings, an orientation to sinister, a langued tongue and a “stretched” attitude. Each feature’s comparative frequency is graphically represented and the end of the paper discusses possible sources for the British conception of the lion. From a short comparative survey it is found that these features are typical only of insular British evangelist-symbol lions, and not lions in contemporary British artwork more generally or of non-insular British gospel lions. The style of the British imago leonis probably developed in isolation and from a classical model.
How to Cite: Raye, L., 2013. Lions in Insular British Artwork, 650-1000 AD. Journal for Late Antique Religion and Culture, 7, pp.72–89. DOI:
Published on 15 Dec 2013.
Peer Reviewed


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