Stephen O’Malley


Posted: Apr 27, 2005


Cheers to Lorin Davies for the link.

Chasing Hares

The search for the meaning and origin of the ancient symbol of the three hares.

Writer and historian, James Crowden, follows three historical detectives from a church in Devon to a high mountain kingdom in the Himalayas searching for the meaning and origin of the ancient symbol of the three hares.

The search began with a carving in the roof of a medieval Devon church, but the hare-chasers trace its origins through medieval Europe; via an ancient casket said to have contained the bones of St Lazarus, a 13th century monastery bell, and a Chapter house roof where the hares are found rubbing shoulders with the pagan Green Man; all the way to the mountain Kingdom of Ladakh and 12th Century China.

So what does the symbol mean and how has it travelled such immense distances?

The answer connects the pagan goddess who gave her name to Easter to the Virgin Mary, the Buddha, and the great Mongol Empire.

You can see photos of the hares, find out about the Three Hares Project and contribute your own sightings at: The Three Hares Project

From BBC Radio 4

Listen again to the program in RealAudio.

An ancient symbol in the roof of a Dartmoor church turns out to link paganism, Islam, Christianity and Buddhism over almost 2000 years, in a fascinating historical detective story.