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York Assize Court Pediment Details and Symbolism p01

Photograph: Symbolism and architectural detail on the York Assize Courts Building.

Image Description

The image shows the triangular pediment above the central portico of the Assize Courts Building (now York Crown Court). The building is constructed from a pale yellowy-brown, fine-grained sandstone and the section shown in this image rewards close inspection as it is rich in both symbolism and architectural detail.

The lower third of the image is filled with the upper sections of the four plain Ionic columns and two plain Ionic pilasters that support the triangular pediment that fills the middle third of the image.

The plain wall behind the columns is pierced by three round (upper storey) windows.

The pediment contains a wreath over a saltire cross formed from a fasces (an axe bound in a bundle of wooden rods) and a staff bearing the cap of liberty.

Above the apex of the pediment, there is a stone figure representing Mother Justice (aka Lady Justice). She is holding a spear in her left hand and a set of scales in her right hand.

Behind the outer points of the pediment, there is a pair of carved stone creatures: a lion to the left and a unicorn to the right. Both are 'couchant' (i.e. lying-down with their heads up).

All three of the stone carvings stand-out clearly against the clear blue sky that fills most of the upper third of the image.