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John Thomas

[Fr. croc, crochet: ‘hook’]

Decorative device used in Gothic art and architecture, attached to a capital or a gable, an arch, piece of tracery or coping. The term was used in medieval England in the forms crockytt and crockett. English writers of the Gothic Revival period, however, suggested a connection with the crook, noting that some of the earliest English examples take the form of the pastoral crosier, but this is probably a misinterpretation.

Crocket capitals developed during the period of transition from Romanesque to Gothic architecture from the mid-12th century, with small curled, twisted fronds of vegetation projecting from the body of the capital, in a form suggesting the much older use of curved floral decoration in the Corinthian order (see Orders, architectural, §I, 1, (iii)). After c. 1250 the crocket emerged as a curve of foliage that twisted or hooked back, turning the opposite way to the arch or gable out of which it rose, reminding Gwilt of ‘the buds and boughs of trees in the spring season’. In the course of its development, the crocket lost its hook-shape and began to curve upwards rather than downwards, becoming richer and more florid. Thus after ...


Lisa A. Reilly

[Lat. gargulio: ‘throat’]

Projection from the roof, parapet, or buttress of a building that acts as a water-spout, throwing rainwater clear of the wall to prevent damage to the structure. Gargoyles are a particular feature of European Gothic architecture, Gothic Revival buildings and restorations, and also occur in Chinese architecture.

Although best known in its European Gothic manifestations, the concept of a water-spout projecting from the roof line, as well as the decoration of that feature, originated considerably earlier. Examples have been cited at Abusir, Egypt, dating to the 5th Dynasty (c. 2465–c.. 2325 bc). In Greece the 7th-century bc wooden Temple of Apollo at Thermon featured terracotta spouts in the form of masks and lions’ heads (Thermon, Archaeol. Mus.). In such Roman buildings as the House of the Niobid, the water-spouts were more visually related to Gothic examples: dogs and lions in a crouching position formed the upper part of the gargoyle with water running out between their front paws through the spout below....