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English Medieval Shrines


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The cult of saints is one of the most fascinating manifestations of medieval piety. It was intensely physical; saints were believed to be present in the bodily remains that they had left on earth. Medieval shrines were created in order to protect these relics and yet to show off their spiritual worth, at the same time allowing pilgrims limited access to them.
English Medieval Shrines traces the development of such structures, from the earliest cult activities at saintly tombs in the late Roman empire, through Merovingian Gaul and the Carolingian Empire, via Anglo-Saxon England, to the great shrines of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. The greater part of the book is a definitive exploration, on a basis that is at once thematic and chronological, of the major saints cults of medieval England, from the Norman Conquest to the Reformation. These include the famous cults of St Cuthbert, St Swithun, and St Thomas Becket - and lesser known figures such as St Eanswyth of Folkestone or St Ecgwine of Evesham.

John Crook, an independent architectural historian, archaeological consultant, and photographer, is the foremost authority on English shrines. He has published numerous books and papers on the cult of saints.


There is a veritable flood of information in this book. CULTURAL AND SOCIAL HISTORY

There is much to praise in this elegantly written and beautifully produced account. For the student of medieval art or the educated enthusiast, this book is a sophisticated synthesis of an extraordinary amount of research in archaeology, hagiography, art history, architectural history, among other disciplines. . It is indeed the go-to book on the subject. JOURNAL OF THE BRITISH ARCHAEOLOGICAL ASSOCIATION

Brings to his inquiry decades of expertise and many gems of knowledge quarried from the archives. Underpinned by learning and much shrine study, his detailed survey is also furnished with a valuable repository of plates and figures. [Readers] nevertheless will find his book a treasury of knowledge, which deserves attention as the fullest accessible survey of English medieval shrine work. HISTORY

Will be of interest both to those who want to learn more about the cult of saints and shrine bases generally and to those who wish to research a specific shrine. Undoubtedly, this volume will quickly become established as the standard work on the subject, and, as such, thoroughly deserves a place on many a bookshelf. CHURCH MONUMENTS

This comprehensive and authoritative book demonstrates once again John Crook's pre-eminent position as a scholar of the material history of the cult of the saints in the Medieval West. [It] shines a searchlight on this elusive but important subject. ECCLESIOLOGY TODAY

Effortlessly combines archaeology, art, architecture, hagiography and other documents to produce a compelling narrative. MEDIEVAL ARCHAEOLOGY

John Crook, Britain's foremost expert on shrines, here distils a lifetime's research into an essential synthesis. BRITISH ARCHAEOLOGY

This is a valuable resource for church historians and archaeologists, with its 53 black-and-white photos of excellent quality, mostly the work of the author. CHURCH TIMES

This book will be warmly welcomed by readers with a specialist interest in medieval shrines, their origins, locations, associated ceremonies, designs, and fates. Dr Crook is the foremost authority on the subject, and this volume amply shows why. VIDIMUS


First Published: 17 Nov 2011
13 Digit ISBN: 9781843836827
Pages: 366
Size: 24.4 x 17.2
Binding: Hardback
Imprint: Boydell Press
BIC Class: HBLC1

Details updated on 02 May 2016


  • 1  Introduction
  • 2  Relics, Shrines, and Pilgrimage
  • 3  Graves, Shrines, and Crypts. The Physical Setting of Saints' Cults on the Continent
  • 4  'But Lo! There breaks a yet more glorious day': Saints Cults in Early Anglo-Saxon England
  • 5  'The Island of Saints.' Saints' Cults in Mid- to Late Anglo-Saxon England
  • 6  English Saints and the 'New Englishmen': Anglo-Saxon Shrines and Relics after the Norman Conquest
  • 7  Into the Twelfth Century: From Tomb to Shrine
  • 8  'Giving Light to the Whole House': The New Enthusiasm for Saints' Cults in the Later Twelfth Century
  • 9  The Legacy of Thomas Becket: The Thirteenth Century
  • 10  The Final Flowering. Saints' Cults in the Later Middle Ages
  • 11  The Fate of Shrines at the Reformation
  • 12  Epilogue - English Shrines Today
  • 13  Select Bibliography

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