Paisley Abbey's 'Alien' Gargoyle – Paisley, Scotland - Atlas Obscura
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Paisley, Scotland

Paisley Abbey's 'Alien' Gargoyle

A familiar otherworldly creature guards this 12th-century Scottish abbey. 

Paisley Abbey was first built in the 12th century. The medieval site is steeped in history—it’s even said Sir William Wallace was educated here. But it’s the abbey’s more recent architectural details that are responsible for drawing sci-fi fans to the site.

In 1991, the abbey underwent some necessary restoration work. Twelve of its 13 gargoyles were so badly ruined from water damage they had to be removed. The work was carried out by an Edinburgh-based stone masonry company, which replaced the carvings with newer models.

Apparently, some of the stone masons had a bit of fun with their creations. One of the gargoyles is certainly unique, which is fitting, as medieval tradition holds that no two gargoyles can look the same. The creature bears a strong resemblance to H.R. Giger’s Xenomorph from the Alien franchise. As the films were popular throughout the 1980s and early ‘90s, it’s likely one of the workers drew a bit of inspiration from its otherworldly antagonist.

But rest assured: This alien being won’t go around stalking and terrorizing any astronauts. Instead, it remains mounted on the abbey’s southwestern side, performing its honorable gargoyle duty of warding off evil.

Know Before You Go

The Abbey is a five-minute walk from Paisley Gilmour Street station. The grounds are accessible and free to visit. It's open every day from 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. except Sunday, when it is in use for services. Have fun looking for the alien.