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gargoyle (gärˈgoil) [key], waterspout used in medieval Europe to draw rainwater from church and cathedral roofs. Gargoyles were fashioned imaginatively in the form of human grotesques, beasts, and demonic spirits. This form of sculpture reached its peak in the Gothic period and declined with the introduction of lead drainpipes in the 16th cent.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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