A suspected medieval sculpture of the Virgin discovered in a Galician river, near Santiago de Compostela

Photo: Conchi Paz, Courtesy of Galician regional government

On June 5th, fisherman Fernando Brey tripped over a moss covered stone in the Sar river in Galicia when he was struck by its unusual shape. Indeed, this was not an ordinary riverbed rock. He had literally stumbled upon a sculpture of the Virgin and Child, whose faces are now missing, with two worn angels behind the Virgin’s shoulders, who appear to hold up her mantle. Brey quickly shared his discovery with Apatrigal, a local heritage association, and the Galician Ministry of Culture, who believe the work dates to the 14th century.

According to Apatrigal’s statement, the 150kg granite sculpture is carved on all sides other than the back, including the underside of its base, leading them to believe it was meant to be suspended on a wall. They also hypothesize that the work may have originally been located in the now-lost 12th-century Convent of Santa María de Conxo, which was very close to the discovery site in the Sar river. The sculpture has now been moved to the Museo das Peregrinacións in Santiago de Compostela, where it will be cleaned and analysed to determine its probable origin and dating. ‘Studies should tell us whether this is a very valuable gothic statue’, regional minister of culture Román Rodríguez said, as reported in The Guardian, ‘but beyond its cultural and historic value, we’ll also need to try to put together the story of this statue: What happened, and how could it remain undiscovered so close to the city for so many centuries? It must be quite a story’.

See more on this story in La Voz de Galicia

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