Scotland's ancient Paisley Abbey is home to the "Alien" Gargoyle

Anita Durairaj
The Paisley Abbey "Alien" GargoyleCredit: Mark Harkin; CC-BY-SA-2.0

Paisley Abbey is a parish church in Paisley, Scotland. It is an ancient church with origins dating back to the 12th century. The abbey is also historically important because it is the burial place of six High Stewards of Scotland and it was the site where Robert II, the 14th century King of Scotland was born.

A part of Paisley Abbey has been designated as a Scheduled Ancient Monument. However, it is the abbey's more recent architecture that has drawn some publicity.

Paisley Abbey is decorated with 13 gargoyles. These mythical creatures are believed to ward off evil and protect the abbey. The gargoyles also functioned as downpipes to convey water falling from the roof and prevent it from running down the walls of the abbey.

At one time, the gargoyles were crumbling and in disrepair. The abbey itself was destroyed in 1307 and its tower collapsed in the 16th century. It was rebuilt and in the 1990s, its stone gargoyles had to be rebuilt from scratch.

The 1990s gargoyle work was carried out by a stone masonry company that replaced the old carvings with new ones. One of the "new" gargoyles bore a strong resemblance to the alien xenomorph from the Alien film franchise. It is thought that the masonry company was just having a bit of fun and being inspired by the popular culture of the time. This gargoyle was dubbed the "Alien Gargoyle."

The image of the "Alien Gargoyle" first appeared on the internet in 1997 but the media only became interested in it much later around 2013.

The "Alien Gargoyle" remains mounted on the abbey's southwestern side and has become a tourist attraction.

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Trained with a Ph.D. in Chemistry from the University of Cincinnati, I write unique and interesting articles focused on science, history, and current events.


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