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The beaker ornament was widely used at Norwich Castle for decorating window arches and blind arcading on all four main facades.
The motif produces alternations of light and shadow across the arches which are effective in conveying a feeling of richness and solidity, and which echo similar effects produced by the corbel tables and battlements.
Further decoration is often carved between the leaves: a pinecone, or sometimes a second head.A simpler version of this unusual motif is found at an early date at Tavant (Indre et Loire) in southern Normandy (Figure 5), where Henry held lands before he came to the throne, and its introduction to England at Reading may be a direct result of Henry’s patronage.In England this type of arch decoration was copied from Reading, on the inner order of the doorway at Great Durnford (Wilts).(8) The spread of beakhead from Reading may also be linked to patronage around the court of Henry I.Just why 12th century sculptors and their patrons considered this appropriate for sacred buildings is a question that has exercised commentators since Bernard of Clairvaux, questioned its purpose in cloister decoration in the 1120s.(15) The Abbé Auber, writing in the 19th century, considered that gargoyle waterspouts were devils conquered by the church and set to perform menial tasks, and later in that century and in the early part of the next it was fashionable to look for moral messages by identifying monstrous creatures with the animals described in Bestiaries, which had Christian ethical messages attached to them in the text.(16) A more convincing explanation, developed in the work of Camille, is that these terrifying creatures represent the sin and vice that fills the world, which must be rejected by the man of God.(17) The predatory birds and fierce beasts of Reading cloister; the grotesque and obscene corbels that surround so many churches, and the foul creatures that cluster around their doorways are there to remind us that the world is really like that, however beautiful and serene it may appear, and that the only refuge is to be found in the Church.1 The standard works on beakhead are still J Salmon, 'Beakhead Ornament in Norman Architecture', Yorkshire Archaeological Journal XXXVI (1946), 349-57, and especially G Zarnecki and F Henry, 'Romanesque Arches decorated with Human and Animal Heads', Journal of the British Archaeological Association, XX-XXI (1957-58), 1-35 2 On the Nuns’ Church at Clonmacnoise, see J Ni Ghradaigh, '"But what exactly did she give?