Sheela Na Gig 3D Project
December 2016 - Present
Orla Peach Power - Gary Dempsey
'Sheela-na-Gig 3D is a multi-phase, trans-disciplinary project that will record the catalogue of Sheela na-Gig carvings in Ireland, using non-contact digital methodologies including photogrammetry and laser scanning.
Sheela-Na-Gigs are somewhat of an enigma. The original function of these exhibitionist carvings is possibly lost to time. Generally a 'Sheela' is a female figure, exhibiting an exaggerated vulva and breasts. They fall within the wider classification of Exhibitionist Figures. The carvings come in many shapes and sizes. They appear in both religious and secular buildings, their locations often being a secondary placement and therefore difficult to date.
After a period of popularity in the Medieval period, changing attitudes may have lead to the removal and destruction of these carvings by local clergy Where stones do survive some have been damaged, or degraded by weathering. The Sheela-Na-Gig Project will create a detailed digital record of the current state of the stones, providing a useful tool for current and future researchers and local communities.
The projects was funded by the Heritage Council in 2017, which allowed DH_Age to carry out a survey of Sheela-na-Gigs in Co. Roscommon. This was building on the Roscommon3D project. Subsequent surveys have been self funded, with access and supported provided by local Heritage officers, museums, and site owners. We are grateful to everyone who has assisted to date with the survey and hope to continue recording Ireland’s sheela-na-gigs, and hopefully uncover new carvings such as the image to the left.
Sheela-na-Gig County Surveys
DH_Age would like to express our thanks to all the people who have provided access to Sheela-na-Gigs on private land. We are grateful for your assistance in recording these important national monuments, and your continued curatorship. We would also like to express our thanks to heritage officers in Westmeath and Cavan, for assisting in gaining access to carvings in those areas. Museum in Athlone, Cavan, Cork and Limerick for access to collections, and to everyone else who has assisted with the survey to date. To Michael Moore, Margaret Keane, Camin O'Brien of National Monuments Ireland, and Matt Seaver of the National Museum for assistance to date. A special thank you to Christy Cunniffe and Louise Nugent for support and assistance, and Gabrial Cannon of the Irish Sheela-na-Gig website and John Harding of the UK Sheela-na-Gig website