Online Conference: ‘‘Our Aelred’: Man, Monk & Saint’, English Heritage & the British Archaeological Association, 11-12 January 2021

Join English Heritage and the British Archaeological Association for this major online conference focused on Aelred, abbot of Rievaulx between 1147 and 1167.

Called ‘our Aelred’ by his monks, the abbot was one of the most important monastic leaders of the Middle Ages and remains an inspirational figure to this day.

Bringing together leading scholars and heritage professionals, this conference provides a unique opportunity to examine Aelred’s impact on the architectural development of Rievaulx, his role in the Cistercian settlement of northern England and his activities as an author.

Speakers will address the abbot’s impact in the wider monastic world and Aelred’s legacy, including his veneration as a saint and how his extraordinary life and achievements can be interpreted for 21st-century visitors to Rievaulx.

The event also features a round-table discussion focused on debates about Aelred’s sexuality.

The conference has been scheduled to coincide with Aelred’s feast day on 12 January.

Download the programme and register here.

Conference Programme (GMT)

Day 1: Monday 11 January 2021, Vigil of the Feast of St Aelred, Abbot & Confessor

12:00 – 12:10 pm: Welcome and Introduction: Anna Eavis


  • 12:10 – 12:30: Janet Burton, ‘The Cistercian Settlement of Northern England’
  • 12:30 – 12:50: Stuart Harrison, ‘Aelred’s Inheritance: the monastic buildings of Abbot William’
  • 12:50 – 13:00: Questions

Theology & Patronage

  • 13:00-13:20: Marsha Dutton, ‘Finding God in the Memory According to Aelred of Rievaulx’
  • 13:20-13:50: Peter Fergusson, ‘The Context of Aelred’s Rievaulx Buildings and Precinct Development in the 1150s’
  • 13:50 – 14:00: Questions

DAY 2: Tuesday 12 January 2021, Feast Feast of St Aelred, Abbot & Confessor

12:00 – 12:10pm: Welcome and Introduction

History & Sainthood

  • 12:10 – 12:30: Elizabeth Freeman, ‘Aelred of Rievaulx: the future-looking historian’
  • 12:30 – 12:50: Emilia Jamroziak, ‘Aelred of Rievaulx and other Cistercian Saints in the Late Middle Ages’
  • 12:50 – 13:00: Questions

The Wider Context

  • 13:00 – 13:20: Brian Golding, ‘The abbot, the bishop, and the earl: Aelred and the early years of Revesby abbey’
  • 13:20 – 13:50: Alexandra Gajewski, ‘Aelred, Rievaulx and the French Connections’
  • 13:50 – 14:00: Questions

Break: 14:00 – 14:45

Aelred in the 21st Century

  • 14:45 – 15:00: Michael Carter, ‘Our Aelred’: a Rievaulx interpretation for 2021’
  • 15:00 – 16:00: Dominique Bouchard, Marsha Dutton and Katherine Harvey: ‘Aelred and Monastic Sexuality: a round table discussion’

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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