Online Lectures: British Archaeological Association sponsored panels for the IMC 2020

As the IMC 2020 could not take place this year, the British Archaeological Association has recorded their sponsored panels which you can now watch online. All papers are chaired by Dr Harriet Mahood.

Havens for Burial: The Convents of Constantinople and their Female Founders, Dr Cecily Hennessy

This paper considers certain convents founded in Byzantine Constantinople and the design of their houses of worship, focusing on the places of burial the founders provided for themselves, their families and their communities of nuns. In Byzantium, many religious institutions were founded by members of the imperial family, both men and women. Of the six Byzantine convents for which we have the foundation rules, known as the typika, five were built by women in Constantinople, all connected with the imperial family. These documents include evidence for the buildings, their daily use, as well as the key regulations of worship. This paper examines them for what they tell us about the burials and their rituals and considers the networks and relations between the various women founders.

It also looks at what evidence we have for the design of the buildings by looking at both lost and surviving structures in Istanbul and at other visual records, considering how these designs are particularly appropriate for burials. One piece of evidence comes from an illumination in the illustrated typikon, Oxford, Lincoln College, MS Gr 35, depicting the foundress of the convent, Theodora Palaiologina Synadene, presenting a model of her church to the Mother of God. The convent, dedicated to the Mother of God of Bebaia Elpis (Good Hope), was founded in about 1300. The design of the building is discussed in the context of other related churches which existed in Constantinople.


The Surviving Early 16th-Century Chantry Chapels at St Stephen’s, Westminster, Dr Elizabeth Biggs

Within the iconic Houses of Parliament built by Charles Barry in the nineteenth century a sixteenth-century cloister and two rooms opening off its western walks, now known as the oratories, survive. While these rooms have been much altered over the centuries, it is clear that they are unusual pieces of sixteenth-century architecture whose original purposes are not clear. They have been called oratories, a chapter house, and simply chapels in various contexts over the centuries. The oratories invite comparisons with the chapter house of Old St Paul’s Cathedral in London, where the chapter house opened off of the cloisters there. Other possible comparisons are the chantry chapels built in the early sixteenth century at Windsor and Eton, or Abbot Islip’s chapel at Westminster Abbey.

This paper explores what is known of the oratories’ construction, their history within the Palace of Westminster, and the institutional context that provides clues as to their original uses. In doing so it identifies a lost chantry chapel belonging to a fifteenth-century bishop of St Davids, William Lyndwood.


‘Timor mortis conturbat me’ – Commemoration and the Macabre at Rosslyn Chapel , Dr Lizzie Swarbrick

Rosslyn Chapel is an idiosyncratic late medieval collegiate church in Midlothian, Scotland. The building is unusually ornate and has survived remarkably well. Both its exterior and interior are marked by an extraordinary level of surface ornament, which includes a variety of figural sculpture. Despite these surviving visual riches, and in contrast to the majority of comparable institutions, Rosslyn has no surviving tomb commemorating its founder, Sir William Sinclair.

In this paper, Lizzie examines this apparent omission by exploring the macabre images which make up a significant part of Rosslyn’s superabundant sculpture. She shows that representations of death and dying are concentrated in particular spaces within the church. In particular, she analyses images of the Ages of Man, the Dance of Death, and the Three Living and the Three Dead. Using their iconography and their placement within Rosslyn’s topography she reimagines the commemorative functions which the church once fulfilled, and reveals the probable site of the tomb of William Sinclair.


The Placement of Furnished Burials by Ecclesiastical Sites, Danica Ramsey-Brimberg

Viking settlement blurred boundaries in various ways. In areas already converted, such as Britain and Ireland, furnished burials in or near ecclesiastical sites in the ninth to eleventh centuries sat on the border, metaphorically and literally. They represented a style of burial similar, yet different from those interred nearby. However, it is their placement at the various ecclesiastical sites, the natural landscape and their related boundaries that adds further intrigue. Through understanding what their positioning is in the natural and man-made landscape, why they might have occurred or what they may have represented may be then more easily understood.


Lordly buildings amongst peasants: Displays of authority within manorial centres, Dr Duncan Berryman

This paper discusses how the buildings of the manorial farmstead, the curia, were designed and positioned to act as a display of the lord’s wealth and their authority over the tenants of the village. As well as the agricultural buildings, it will think about the relationship between the village, the church and the curia to indicate the relationships between the lord and the villagers. This work focuses on southern England and combines documentary research with landscape analysis (through maps) and archaeological excavation.


The Web-Foot Queen of Saint-Bénigne, in Dijon, Professor Kathleen Nolan

Monumental statue columns in the portals that followed Saint-Denis are thought to evoke the ancestry of Christ, their authority affirmed by the court attire they wear. But in Burgundy, the identities of column figures underwent a metamorphosis from their Parisian models. In the majestic monastic church of Saint-Bénigne, in Dijon, the identity of an Old Testament queen was marked by an appendage, a webbed foot, that seems to undermine the authority of the figure. How can we understand the message of this queen that blurred the boundary between species? Can the webfoot be a neutral attribute, or does it stigmatize the only female figure on the portal jambs?


Life in the Shadow: Power Relations in Medieval Wensleydale, Erik Matthews

This paper explores how the on-going archaeological fieldwork programme and documentary research at Hornby Castle in Wensleydale illustrates the often fraught relationship between elite landscapes of pleasure with the working agricultural landscape surrounding, together with the wider spiritual landscape. It looks in particular at the relationship of the adjacent Deserted Medieval Village to the buildings of the elite complex and its park and also the relationship between the site and the church in terms of investment by the owners in many forms.


Published by Roisin Astell

Roisin Astell received a First Class Honours in History of Art at the University of York (2014), under the supervision of Dr Emanuele Lugli. After spending a year learning French in Paris, Roisin then completed an MSt. in Medieval Studies at the University of Oxford (2016), where she was supervised by Professor Gervase Rosser and Professor Martin Kauffmann. In 2017, Roisin was awarded a CHASE AHRC studentship as a doctoral candidate at the University of Kent’s Centre for Medieval and Early Modern Studies, under the supervision of Dr Emily Guerry.

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