Conference: “Bells and Smells: Sensory Experiences of the Medieval Liturgy”, Senate House, University of London, 24/02/2018

Bells and Smells

The five senses occupied an ambiguous place in medieval religious life. For generations of theologians and pastoral writers, the senses were gateways for sin to enter body and soul. And yet, in the rarefied environment of liturgical performance, they became the means by which mortals could apprehend the Almighty. Imagery, music, incense, touch and even taste played a role in shaping medieval worshippers’ encounters with the sacred. The papers in this conference consider how the senses were employed and how they were a source of both religious solidarity and controversy.


Matthew Cheung Salisbury (University College Oxford): ‘Participation in the Medieval Liturgy’

Naomi Speakman (British Museum): ‘My soul in your hands’: Iconographic Finger Rings of the 15th century

Michaela Zöschg (Victoria and Albert Museum): Spiritual Clothing and Glittering Bling: The Role(s) of Opus Anglicanum Copes in Medieval Church Performance

Matthew Champion (Birkbeck): Conditor or Con? The Musical Clock of St Catherine’s Rouen (1321)

Further information: Bells and Smells



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