Sculpted capitals, church of Sainte-Marie-du-Mont
11th century sculpture atop two pilasters in the village's church. To the right, a stag is under attack by two dogs. The collars around the dogs' necks identify them as hunting dogs, so the venison is destined for someone's table.
The village is within a few miles of the sea at Utah Beach, the westernmost site of the Normandy Landings.
As was frequently the case, this church was erected on the site of a former pagan temple. Its core is still of the 11th century, there were modifications during the later Gothic period, followed by the construction of an incongruous tall tower which can best be likened to a pepper-grinder.
The town's proximity to the sea meant that the inhabitants needed ample warning of the approach of hostile forces (e g the English). As indicated by the village name, it stood on high ground, and the tall tower provided a commanding view over a large area. Similarly it was an unambiguous indication of the presence of a village and thus of potential plunder!
Sainte-Marie-du-Mont, liberated by the US 101st Airborne Division on D-Day (6 June 1944), was the very first of the many French villages which would be liberated during the allied campaign.
Photo added in February 2014