One of the earliest recorded
gargoyles is a Classical Greek lion mask on the Acropolis
in Athens dating from the 4th century BC.
Gargoyles later became more ornamental in character and
assumed many forms - often humorous and very inventive. Most were carved between the 10th
and 15th centuries in Western Europe.
St. Bernard of Clairvaux, living in 12th-century France,
made some interesting (and not wholly complimentary)
observations on the gargoyle carvings he saw around
"What are these fantastic monsters doing in the
cloisters under the very eyes of the brothers as they
read? What is the meaning of these unclean monkeys,
strange savage lions and monsters? To what purpose
are here placed these creatures, half beast, half
man? I see several bodies with one head and several
heads with one body. Here is a quadruped with a serpent's
head, there a fish with a quadruped's head, then again
an animal half horse, half goat... Surely if we do
not blush for such absurdities we should at least
regret what we have spent on them."