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Creation 36(2):12–14, April 2014

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Concealed under Carlisle Cathedral’s carpet: dinosaurs!



The curate graciously agreed to roll back the ornate carpet between the choir stalls of the magnificent Carlisle Cathedral in northern England. Underneath was the marble tomb of Bishop Bell who died in 1496, a little over 500 years ago. Surrounding it is one of the best surviving examples of medieval brass work. My wife and I had come to the cathedral to see for ourselves the amazing images engraved in the brass inlay surrounding the tomb which we had read about in Creation magazine.1 The curate explained that the carpet was there to protect the brass work from further wear. This was already quite evident as centuries of choir boys’ feet have shuffled over the tomb.

Interior of Carlisle Cathedral showing the carpet covering the tomb
Mark and Jenny Harwood at the tomb of Bishop Bell
Sauropod dinosaurs etched in the brass inlay

Why the interest in mediaeval brass etchings? Because among the common everyday animals and plants depicted, there are two strange creatures with long necks and what appear to be bony protrusions on their tails. Today, we would identify such animals as sauropod dinosaurs (see Which dino is that?). But if the evolutionary story of dinosaurs was true, these creatures should have died out millions of years before human beings walked the earth. How could their images be engraved on a 500-year-old tomb in northern England (centuries before studies of dinosaur fossils)?


The curate suggested they were mythical creatures. But why would those craftsmen have depicted a dog (complete with a collar), a fish, a bird, an eel—all common everyday creatures—and then in the midst of them all included mythical creatures? It is far more likely these long necked ‘behemoths’ were in fact known by those artisans and did indeed roam northern England just a few centuries ago. As further confirmation of their authenticity, the creatures have their necks and tails roughly horizontal, which was not how sauropod dinosaurs were depicted in museums for many years. It is only relatively recently that paleontologists have realised that sauropods really did look like this.

The Bible teaches some fascinating things about dinosaurs:

  • God made both Man and all the land-dwelling animals on Day 6 of Creation Week. (Genesis 1:24–31).
    Conclusion: Dinosaurs and man were contemporaries.

  • One pair of every kind of unclean land dwelling animals (and seven pairs of clean animals) came to the Ark. (Genesis 7:2–3,8–9).
    Conclusion: Two of every kind of dinosaur went onto the Ark.2

  • Every living thing in which was the breath of life, not on the Ark, perished in the Flood. (Genesis 7:23).
    Conclusion: All dinosaurs not on the Ark perished in the Flood.

  • After the Flood, pairs of every kind of creature, including dinosaurs, came off the Ark. (Genesis 8:19).
    Conclusion: Two of every kind of dinosaur survived the Flood.

So it is not surprising that history is replete with accounts of people encountering huge beasts, usually referred to as dragons, in the post-Flood centuries.3 Here at Carlisle Cathedral is clear evidence of dinosaurs surviving into the 15th century AD. Such evidence is ‘dynamite’ in our society, since if dinosaurs lived in the not-too-distant past, the evolutionary story must be wrong. But the truth of God’s Word is evident everywhere we look in the world around us, even if we have to look under a carpet to see it!

Which dino is that?

(A Shunosaurus and Vulcanodon on Bishop Bell’s tomb?)

In the book Untold Secrets of Planet Earth: Dire Dragons, with the aid of digitally-enhanced photographs of the Carlisle Cathedral brass engravings, Vance Nelson offers these insights:

“Notice how closely the creature on the right resembles a sauropod dinosaur. Below it is a Vulcanodon for comparison.

“Some people have suggested the creature on the left has a head at the tip of the tail. However, a close examination shows spike-like projections protruding from the tip of the tail. It is likely that this is another type of sauropod resembling the Shunosaurus. To date, Shunosaurus [fossils] have only been found in China.

“If the tail of the creature on the left was straightened, we would notice four tail spikes: two pointing up and two pointing backwards. What some may perceive as an eye is probably just an imperfection in the brass as seen in other areas. What some suggested as an inaccuracy has actually become further evidence from the same carving that people must have seen living dinosaurs.”


References and notes

  1. Bell, P., Bishop Bell’s brass behemoths! Creation 25(4):40–44 2003, creation.com/bb. Return to text.
  2. Note that there were far fewer kinds than named ‘species’, and they were also probably taken on board as juveniles, before their massive growth spurt. See Sarfati, J., How did dinosaurs grow so big? And how did Noah fit them on the Ark? Creation 28(1):44–47, 2005; creation.com/dinogrowth. Return to text.
  3. For more, see: creation.com/coexist. Return to text.

Helpful Resources

Dire Dragons
by Vance Nelson
US $32.00
Hard Cover
US $10.00

Readers’ comments

william S.
It seems that evolution and the earth dated in millions of years is the myth rather than the creatures etched in brass in Carlisle Cathedral.
jan J.
While I wish it to be true I also have a problem. The epoch in discussion is rather well documented, as are at least 4 centuries prior to it. If the dinosaurs and the first Tudor were contemporaries then how come there are no records of it?
My suggestion would be that the artist simply saw some older depiction of those animals somewhere and made a copy of it.
Mark Harwood
But there are many records of such creatures, such as those included in the book 'Dire Dragons' referred to in the article. All the other animals on the brass inlay would have been known to the artists so it is far more likely these creatures were also known at the time.
Brian W.
While I do believe that the people of Northern England and elsewhere saw dinos, it's not inconceivable to me that there could've been many thousands (millions?) of dinos and the majority of people on earth did not see them. For instance, I'm sure there are many thousands (millions?) of elephants on the planet today, but it's only because we have television, internet, and zoos, that I've ever seen them. Without these modern things (television, internet, zoos, etc.), I would just have to trust the eyewitness testimony of others, that elephants really do exist in large numbers somewhere right now on the planet, just not in my neighborhood.
Michael I.
Until this article I thought all the dinosaurs died as a result of Noah's flood. Dinosaurs living only centuries ago instead of a few thousand years... Fantastic. God bless.
Renton M.
The Verger allowed us to see and photograph the etchings when we were there last year (May 2014) but was somewhat reluctant, as well as being emphatic they weren't dinosaurs, just critters drawn out of the imagination of the artist.
I said to the pleasant volunteer guy at the door when we arrived...
"We're from New Zealand and believe that there are some brass etchings of dinosaurs in the Cathedral."
"They're not dinosaurs!!"
"Pardon me...that look like dinosaurs."
"Yes, they look like dinosaurs."...
Anthony W.
Hi Mark, it really is a fascinating piece of evidence pointing towards recent existence of these beasts. One objection that was put to me when I presented this little gem to my home group several years ago was: Why couldn't this be a case of a 16th century palaeontology at work? That is, a relatively complete fossilised sauropod skeleton was unearthed? And then fleshed out, as is done today.
Mark Harwood
There is no evidence of 16th century paleontology being an established science which would surely be in evidence if it were true. Also, why would they juxtapose every day animals with a reconstruction? It is far more likely they had actually seen such magnificent animals and that is why they included them.

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