Why Were Gargoyles Placed On Buildings?

Gargoyles are carvings of grotesque figures, faces or creatures perching along the roofs of buildings and projecting from roof gutters. The gargoyle is one of the most recognizable characteristics of Gothic architecture. The precise purpose of gargoyles was to act as a spout to convey water from the upper part of a building or roof gutter and away from the side of walls or foundations, thereby helping to prevent water from causing damage to masonry and mortar. The gargoyle would have a trough carved into its back down which rainwater would run and exit through the characteristically large open mouth. While gargoyles were included in the construction of many medieval buildings, such as fortresses and castles, they were most prevalent on churches and cathedrals intended to symbolize “guardianship" of the building and to ward off evil spirits. The gargoyles on Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, as pictured above, are a good example. From the early 18th century onward, buildings began to move away from gargoyles in favor of rainwater downspouts, and subsequently the inclusion of gargoyles in architecture fell into decline.