Online Conference: Liturgy, Literature & History: Oswald of Northumbria and the Cult of Saints in the High Middle Ages, 5th-6th August 2021

From the Institute of Medieval and Renaissance Studies at the University of London:

‘The centrality of the cult of saints to medieval Christianity is reflected in surviving liturgical, historical, literary and administrative texts, material culture and architecture.  Too often, however, disciplinary boundaries mean these sources are studied in isolation from one another.  A multi-disciplinary approach is needed if we are to properly understand both the mechanisms by which saints’ cults spread and also the manner in which veneration of the saints drove other forms of political, cultural and social expression.  This conference, focussed on the cult of Oswald of Northumbria in the high Middle Ages, brings together historians, literary scholars, musicologists and art historians to explore the cult of saints through texts, objects, space, sound and the senses and particularly interrogates the influence of the liturgy on society.  The conference was intended to include a performance of Oswald’s feast-day liturgy drawn from Peterborough manuscripts and enacted in the space for which it was originally envisioned, we hope this recreation will be possible on Oswald’s feast day in 2022.’

This conference will take place via Zoom Webinar. Video presentations of the papers will be available to view from 2 weeks before the conference and the live element on 5th & 6th August will consist of discussion sessions. Delegates will be sent a link to access the video presentations and details of how to join the webinar nearer the time. There will also be an optional informal social/discussion session on Thursday evening – details about how to join this will be shared during the webinar.

All the pre-recorded videos will have the option to turn on accurate closed caption subtitles and the discussion sessions will feature live captioning via a Caption Viewer URL. A transcript of the discussion sessions will be available after the conference by emailing with ‘transcript’ as the subject heading. If you have any other access requirements that could support your involvement in the conference then please email with ‘access’ as the subject heading.


The conference is free and open to all. Please register for the live Webinar sessions using the links below. There is no need to register for the informal discussion as details about how to join this session will be shared during the Thursday Webinar.

If you are interested in the conference but do not reside in a time zone that makes attendance at the live element plausible then you are still welcome to register for the conference. By registering you will be able to access the pre-recorded videos at times to suit you, to submit questions to speakers in advance of the live sessions and, by emailing with ‘transcript’ as the subject heading, to be sent a written transcript of the discussions after the conference ends.

Draft Programme (All times BST)

Thursday 5th August

14:30 Welcome

14:45 Panel 1

Professor Tessa Webber (Cambridge), ‘Public reading and the celebration of the feast of St Oswald at Peterborough: the knowns and unknowns’

Dr Nicholas Karn (Southampton), ‘Towards a new edition of Hugh Candidus’s Peterborough chronicle’

Chair: Professor Elisabeth van Houts (Cambridge)

15:30 Short break

15:45 Panel 2

Professor David Hiley (Regensburg), ‘Old and new in the liturgical chants for the feast of St Oswald’

Dr Johanna Dale (UCL), ‘King Oswald’s Arm: Liturgy and Material Culture at Peterborough Abbey’

Chair: Dr Helen Gittos (Oxford)

16:30: break

17:00 Panel 3

Professor Julian Luxford (St Andrews), ‘Images and Relics of Oswald in Later Medieval England’

Professor Nicholas Vincent (UEA), ‘Oswald and England’s Kings, 1066-1307’.

Chair: Dr Philippa Hoskin (Cambridge)

18:00 Informal social gathering

Friday 6th August

14:00 Welcome

14:05 Panel 4

Dr Benjamin Müsegades (Heidelberg), ‘An Englishman abroad. The cult of St Oswald in the medieval Empire’

Dr Diarmuid O’Riain (Munich), ‘The Lives of Oswald and other English saints in the twelfth-century Magnum Legendarium Austriacum’

Chair: Professor Björn Weiler (Aberystwyth)

14:50 Short break

15:00 Panel 5

Dr Henry Parkes (Nottingham), ‘Oswald’s Office in the Bodenseeraum’

Dr Gerhard Lutz (Cleveland Museum), ‘Oswald and Hildesheim Reconsidered’

Chair: Dr Jonathan Lyon (Chicago)

15:45 Break

16:15 Panel 6

Dr Sean Dunnahoe (California State), ‘The transmission of Oswald’s liturgy into Scandinavia’

Professor Brigitte Meijns (KU Leuven), ‘The Abbey of Bergues-Saint-Winnoc and the Cult of St. Oswald in Eleventh-Century Flanders’

Chair: Dr Erik Niblaeus (Cambridge)

17:00 Short break

17:15 Panel 7

Dr Sarah Bowden (King’s College London), ‘St Oswald’s raven: sanctity, sovereignty and animality in the Munich Oswald

Dr Francesca Brooks (York), ‘Falling into precipice of mind and monastery’: Lynette Roberts (1909-95) and the Lives of the Cambro-British Saints’

Chair: Dr Emily Ward (UCL)

18:00 Concluding remarks

This conference has been organised with support from The British Academy, Peterborough Cathedral, and UCL.


Published by charlottecook

Charlotte Cook graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor’s degree in European History from Washington & Lee University in 2019. In 2020 she received her Master’s degree in History of Art from the Courtauld Institute of Art, earning the classification of Merit. Her research explores questions of royal patronage, both by and in honor of rulers, in fourteenth- and fifteenth-century England. She has worked as a researcher and collections assistant at several museums and galleries, and plans to begin her PhD in the autumn of 2022.

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