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The Idea of the Castle in Medieval England


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Medieval castles have traditionally been explained as feats of military engineering and tools of feudal control, but Abigail Wheatley takes a different approach, looking at a range of sources usually neglected in castle studies. Evidence from contemporary literature and art reveals the castle's place at the heart of medieval culture, as an architecture of ideas every bit as sophisticated as the church architecture of the period.
This study offers a genuinely fresh perspective. Most castle scholars confine themselves to historical documents, but Wheatley examines literary and artistic evidence for its influence on and response to contemporary castle architecture. Sermons, seals and ivory caskets, local legends and Roman ruins all have their part to play. What emerges is a fascinating web of cultural resonances: the castle is implicated in every aspect of medieval consciousness, from private religious contemplation to the creation of national mythologies. This book makes a compelling case for a new, interdisciplinary approach to castle studies.

ABIGAIL WHEATLEY studied for her PhD at York University's Centre for Medieval Studies.


There has been a great deal of talk lately about enlarging the scope of castle studies. But few have achieved as much as Abigail Wheatley in this genuinely groundbreaking book. MEDIEVAL ARCHAEOLOGY

A powerful exposition of an invigorating approach to castle studies. [...] It is deeply researched, lucidly and convincingly written. CASEMATE


First Published: 20 Dec 2004
13 Digit ISBN: 9781903153147
17 colour, 5 black and white illustrations
Pages: 192
Size: 23.4 x 15.6
Binding: Hardback
Imprint: York Medieval Press
BIC Class: HBLC1

Details updated on 05 Oct 2015


  • 1  Introduction
  • 2  The Idea of the Castle
  • 3  The Urban Castle
  • 4  The Spiritual Castle
  • 5  The Imperial Castle
  • 6  Conclusion
  • 7  Bibliography

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