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Zodiac Signs, Labours of the Month, Sins, Virtues and Heraldic Beasts

in the Trinity Chapel of Canterbury Cathedral

 

BACK TO MAIN CANTERBURY CATHEDRAL PAGE

 

Links to all Paradoxplace pages about medieval illustrations of Labours of the Month, Zodiac Signs,

Cardinal Virtues and Sins in Western European churches.

 

Canterbury Cathedral

A Walk Around Canterbury Cathedral

Inside Canterbury Cathedral

Canterbury Cathedral Zodiac Signs, Labours, Sins and Virtues Roundels (this page)

Canterbury Cathedral Stained Glass Windows

Limoges Reliquary Châsses made to contain relics of Thomas Becket

Images of the Saint Thomas Becket story

 

 

Roundels near the tomb of Henry IV on the north side of Trinity Chapel

 

 

On a visit to Canterbury Cathedral in July 2007 what should we spy but four sets of large roundels (36 individual ones in all) arrayed on either side of the Trinity Chapel.  Looked like another old Zodiac / monthly activity job.  Returning a few weeks later, we managed to obtain a plan and description of all the roundels plus of course photos of most of them.  Some of these are shown below.

 

Link to Paradoxplace pages on Monthly Activity and Zodiac representations in Western European churches.

 

Link to Zodiac and Monthly Activities at Cathédrale St-Lazare, Autun (Burgundy).

 

Link to the Zodiac Window at Chartres

 

Link to Zodiac font at nearby Saint Augustine's Church at Brooklands (Romney Marshes, South Kent)

 

 

 

Pisces (NE Roundel Group)

 

 

 

This map of the roundels was kindly given to us by the Cathedral Information Centre.  Note that "Tetramorph" most commonly refers to the group of four evangelistic symbols surrounding a mandorlad Christ - here the image is more akin to a Gryphon (Griffin).

 

 

 

 

North East Roundel Group (6 in total)

 

 

 

March - Digging Aries the ram
February - Hand and foot warming Pisces the fish
January - Two faced Janus Aquarius the water carrier

 

 

 

Aquarius (NE Roundel Group)

 

 

 

Aries the Ram (NE Roundel Group)

 

 

 

 

Digging in March (NE Roundel Group)

 

 

North West Roundel Group (12 in total)

 

 

 

July - Weeding Lion & Dragon Anger & Patience Virgo the virgin
Envy & Love Taurus the bull Winged dragon April - Pruning
Libra - The Scales Arms of Mandeville Sobriety & Luxury Cancer the crab

 

 

 

Cancer (NW Roundel Group)

 

 

 

Virgo (NW Roundel Group)

 

 

 

Sobriety and Luxury (or lust - Luxuria) (NW Roundel Group)

 

 

 

Libra (NW Roundel Group)

 

 

 

July Weeding (NW Roundel Group)

 

 

South West Roundel Group (12 in total)

 

 

 

July - Leo the lion June - Mowing September - Boar hunting Humility & Pride
May - Hawking August - Reaping Rabbit playing harp Gryphon
May - Gemini - The Twins Diligence & Sloth Lion & Dragon Greed & Temperence
Yellow means that there is a photo below.  Some photos have been rotated 90° and stretched to approximate the real thing

 

 

 

July - Leo the Lion (SW Roundel Group)

 

 

 

Hawking in May (SW Roundel Group)

 

 

 

May - The vey close Gemini Twins (SW Roundel Group)

 

 

 

August Reaping / Baling (SW Roundel Group)

 

 

 

September - the boar hunt (with jousting helmet?!) (SW Roundel Group)

 

 

 

Rabbit plays Harp (SW Roundel Group)

 

 

South East Roundel Group

 

 

 

Scorpio - The Scorpion October - Treading grapes
Sagittarius the archer November - not clear
Capricorn the billy goat December - Pig killing?

 

 

 

Scorpio - the roo lookalike scorpion (SE Roundel Group)

 

 

 

The dates and signs of the Zodiac, and typical labour of the month illustrations

There are many variants and interpretations, both in the labours illustrated and in the month in which they occur - that's part of the fun of discovery!

 

 

Aquarius – January

 

January 21 – February 18

Le Verseau (The Water Carrier)

 

 

A feast or a man (Janus) with 2 (/3) faces - looking to the old and new years.

 

 

Pisces – February

 

February 19 – March 20

Les Poissons (The Fishes)

 

 

A man warming his feet in front of a fire.

 

 

Aries – March

 

March 21– April 20

(March 20 - Spring Equinox)

Le Bélier (The Ram)

 

Pruning vines, digging, etc.

 

 

Taurus – April

 

April 21 – May 21

Le Taureau (The Bull)

 

 

April flowers / the arrival of Spring.

 

 

Gemini – May

 

May 22 – June 21

Les Gémeaux (The Twins)

 

 

A knight courting, hunting (especially hawking).

 

 

Cancer – June

 

June 22– July 22

(June 21 - Summer Solstice)

Le Cancer (The Crab)

 

Mowing / cutting hay.

 

 

Leo – July

 

July 23 – August 23

Le Lion (The Lion)

 

 

Scything wheat, sharpening a sickle, etc.

 

 

Virgo – August

 

August 24 – September 22

La Vierge (The Virgin)

 

 

Threshing grain with a hinged threshing rod.

 

 

Libra – September

 

September 23 – October 23

(September 22 - Autumn Equinox)

Le Balance (The Scales)

 

Picking / treading grapes.

 

 

Scorpio – October

 

October 24 – November 22

Le Scorpion (The Scorpion)

 

 

Pouring wine into a barrel.

 

 

Sagittarius – November

 

November 23 – December 21

Le Sagitaire (The Archer)

 

 

Harvesting acorns for winter feed, collecting wood faggots, etc.

 

 

Capricorn – December

 

December 22 - January 20

(December 21 - Winter Solstice)

La Capricorne (The Sea Goat)

 

Killing pigs.

 

Some other good examples of Zodiacs and Labours of the Month

 

Zodiac and Monthly Activities at Cathédrale St-Lazare, Autun (Burgundy).

 

Zodiac Window at Chartres

 

Zodiac font at nearby Saint Augustine's Church at Brooklands (Romney Marshes, South Kent)

 

 

Link to Paradoxplace pages on Monthly Activity and Zodiac representations in Western European churches

 

 

 

For other Paradoxplace links visit the home page

 

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All original material © Adrian Fletcher  2000-2015 - The contents may not be hotlinked, or reproduced without permission.