Current Research Postgraduates
Ms Sarah Price
(email at firstname.lastname@example.org)
Beyond the Borders: a spatial analysis of the distribution of Anglo-Saxon stone sculpture in the landscape.
The Corpus of Anglo-Saxon Stone Sculpture (the Corpus) is a monumental assessment of monuments whose own foundations were laid in the 1980s with Professor Rosemary Cramp’s catalogue of material from County Durham and Northumberland. The Corpus series now numbers 10 published volumes and, when complete, will have documented and catalogued all extant sculpture in (what is now) England.
For any undertaking of the size and complexity of the Corpus, some sub-division into manageable territorial chunks is essential. The Corpus direction took the pragmatic decision to allocate focus along the lines of the pre-1974 county boundaries – a decision which has been highly effective operationally, but which has created zones that are unlikely to have been meaningful to persons in the early medieval period.
If the unattainable prism of the past had been available to Corpus authors, no doubt the geographical boundaries of individual volumes would have followed completely different social and political contours – perhaps according to the regional territories of important leaders, or according to the original Germanic territories of the migrants/invaders, or perhaps according to watersheds that occurred during the steady advance of Christianity. All of these more genuine boundaries would have shifted over time, as a shadow of precipitation swells, shrinks and fades on a modern weather map. Using geo-spatial technology (GIS, Google Earth and Google Maps), this thesis takes a boundary-neutral step back from the canvas to tease out patterns in the sculpture distribution that may have been obscured in close-up view.
Research objectives include:
- Does the accumulated mass of data present new possibilities?
- Does the chronological distribution of the sculpture tell us anything new about the geographical distribution of motifs?
- Can any perceivable patterns of motif distribution provide any new insights on usage and on the identification of related, discernible social identities?
- Is it possible to identify potential for the developmental origin of some motifs, as they may be seen to cluster in some locations?
- Is this new interpretation of the spatial distribution of the monuments and their forms and motifs, able to help refine the chronologies that have been proposed by previous scholars? Is it possible to suggest revisions in some places?
As Professor Cramp wrote in the first published Corpus volume:
It will always be necessary to look outside the area of the volume to wider parallels, whilst being conscious that for this period other media can also only provide a very imperfect account of the original picture.
A key ‘wider parallel’ considered in this research project, with comparable geo-spatial potential, is the complementary discipline of place-name studies.
Is supervised by
Department of Archaeology
- Ritual, Religion, Belief and Place Research Group