The "Green Man" - a man’s face carved into wood or stone, with ivy and other foliage growing out of his ears, mouth, and nose, or with oak leaves instead of hair or beard - is found in churches and cemeteries all over Britain and western Europe.

With some dating back to the 11th century, their meanings are lost in antiquity, with most scholars believing they represent our earthy origins, resurrection, and more. The semi-pagan carvings are considered okay with church elders who see them as complementary - or at least parallel - to church doctrine.

They are usually hidden in plain sight; it often takes a keen eye to find them. They may be used in ceiling bosses, doorway capitals, chancel screens, or carved into the sides or backs of built-in folding prayer chairs (called miserichords).

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Miserichords with a green man detail carved into the back of one of the folding chairs

Here is a typical medieval church, located in southwestern England, on which you can plainly see stone carvings lining the eaves on the back of the chapel, and an entry door with a green man carving.



Note the green man top of the column on the right side of the door (closeup on right).


Inside many of the larger old churches are medievel chancel screens on which green man carvings may be found - note the green man near the floor to the right of the flower arrangement.

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Here are a few more representative photos I've taken, including a couple which are not technically "green men" (one is a lion, the other is a man with rats eating his flesh).

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Note: All images were taken by Felder Rushing. Higher resolution images for publication are available upon request.

I have photographed dozens of others, but these are fairly representative. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of others out there waiting to be discovered again...



Daughter Zoe, a talented young cosmetologist,

spent an afternoon making her old dad up as a Green Man...