The Oak Effigy

Robert of Normandy was the eldest son of William the Conqueror, imprisoned till death by his younger brother, intent on usurping the English crown. His grave, topped by an effigy carved from a single piece of bog oak, is in Gloucester cathedral. (In the background to the right is the tomb of Edward II, who met an even more gruesome death in the dungeon of Berkeley castle.)

I think there’s something very moving about Robert’s tomb. From the position of the right leg and arm it looks as if he’s stirring in his sleep and is about to wake. Yet he’s been dead nearly a thousand years. It makes all life seem insignificant, even our own.

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “The Oak Effigy

  1. I agree, there is definitely a sense of movement. Fascinating to see a painted effigy – has it been restored recently, or are those colours pretty much original ?

  2. Hi, dear B, I got the impression they were very old colours, if not the original ones.

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