For centuries Sheela-na-gigs led a quiet existence on churches all over the British Isles. When they were brought to scientific attention in Ireland, some 160 years ago, their discovery, understandably, was not greeted with an unqualified welcome. After all, what were these carvings of naked females doing on medieval churches? And not only naked, but openly displaying their genitalia. Embarrassed clergymen and high-minded churchgoers physically removed and hid or destroyed the offensive figures. Archaeologists tended either to ignore them altogether or to label them as lewd, barbarous or repulsive. Museums kept them locked away safely from public scrutiny. Only in the less puritanical atmosphere of the past few decades did academics as well as artists turn their interest to these carvings. Divergent views emerged as regards the origin and function of the Sheela-na-gigs. Some see them as ancient goddesses, some as vestiges of a pagan cult, others as protective talismans or good luck charms, to name but a few interpretations.