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Landscapes of Monastic Foundation

Landscapes of Monastic Foundation: The Establishment of Religious Houses in East Anglia, c.650-1200

Tim Pestell
Copyright Date: 2004
Edition: NED - New edition
Published by: Boydell and Brewer,
Pages: 296
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  • Book Info
    Landscapes of Monastic Foundation
    Book Description:

    Monastic studies usually focus upon the post-Conquest period; here, in valuable contrast, the focus is on pre-Conquest monastic foundations, in the present-day counties of Norfolk and Suffolk. Tim Pestell considers the place of the monastery in wider landscapes - topographical, social, economic and political. He observes that by 1215 the Diocese of Norwich contained about a tenth of all English monasteries, a remarkable richness of patronage was no sudden flush of enthusiasm, but a manifestation of religious devotion that had been evolving in East Anglia since the seventh-century Conversion. By integrating archaeological and historical sources, Dr Pestell presents an in-depth examination of where and how communal religious life developed in the region over half a millennium. In so doing, he demonstrates how the more visible and better-evidenced post-Conquest monastic landscape was typically structured by its Anglo-Saxon past. Dr TIM PESTELL is Curator of Archaeology at Norwich Castle Museum.

    eISBN: 978-1-84615-236-8
    Subjects: Religion

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-vii)
  3. List of illustrations
    (pp. viii-x)
  4. Acknowledgements
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  5. Abbreviations
    (pp. xv-xvi)
  6. 1 Introduction: Past and Present Approaches to Monastic Studies
    (pp. 1-17)

    THAT monasticism constituted a major influence upon the Early Medieval landscape has never been in doubt. Much has been written about how certain orders, notably the Cistercians, exploited their landholdings and still more orthodox has been the view that monasteries sought isolated or reclusive positions within the countryside. This perspective has undoubtedly been aided by the writings of ecclesiastics themselves, for instance, the Peterborough monk Hugh Candidus. Writing in the early twelfth century, he suggested that the islands of the Fens ‘I believe God himself raised, with the intention that it should be the habitation of those servants of God...

  7. 2 Monasticism in Middle Anglo-Saxon East Anglia
    (pp. 18-64)

    ANGLO-SAXON England’s earliest monasteries are today known principally through documentary sources. As a result, their location, the type of communities they contained, and the ways in which they operated have been left at the mercy of the surviving source material, of which Bede’sHistoria Ecclesiastica Gentis Anglorum, written c.731, has long been fundamentally important. Against this background, archaeology has tried to develop our knowledge of these sites, initially through the recovery of ground-plans and finds as at Whitby,¹ but increasingly by attempting to characterise ‘monastic’ archaeological assemblages and topographical characteristics, to create models applicable to other, undocumented, sites.

    Despite intensive...

  8. 3 The First Viking Age and its Consequences for Monasticism in East Anglia
    (pp. 65-100)

    A DOMINANT feature of ninth- and tenth-century English political history is the presence of the Vikings. Nowhere do we hear more clearly about Scandinavian raiding activity than in the sphere of religious life, and David Knowles’ assessment that there was ‘a complete collapse of monasticism by the end of the ninth century’ still stands for some.¹ Examining the impact in East Anglia has always been difficult due to the lack of historical sources for the area,² a silence which has traditionally been taken to reflect the repercussions of the Scandinavians’ presence.³ However, reassessing the period is important as it has...

  9. 4 Monastic Reform and Religious Life in the Later Anglo-Saxon Period
    (pp. 101-151)

    BY 1066 a new class of religious institution had not only been established within the Anglo-Saxon landscape, but owned vast tracts of it. Monastic life led according to strict precepts, as exemplified in the Rule of St Benedict of Nursia (c.480–550), was not new to the tenth century:¹ in Bede we find a champion of a strict cenobitic life from an earlier age, railing as he did against ‘false monasteries’ in his letter of 734 to Archbishop Ecgberht.² However, the tenth-century monastic reform saw a new approach to religious life, principally through its codification and imposition in a national...

  10. 5 The Establishment of Monasteries in the Norman Landscape
    (pp. 152-217)

    IF EVENTS in 1066 brought about a dramatic change in English political realities, the fallout was no less profound for communal religious life. The arrival of a Norman nobility saw the emergence of new political geographies and with it, the patronage of different forms of ordered religious communities. Monastic studies have frequently focused upon this post-Conquest period rather than its Anglo-Saxon precursor, both historically and archaeologically, primarily (one suspects) because of the substantially better array of evidence. This is both unfortunate and frustrating. It has led to monastic studies typically concentrating on individual religious orders, reforming movements, or house histories:...

  11. 6 Conclusions
    (pp. 218-232)

    AT THE start of this book, it was argued that monastic studies have been heavily influenced by outdated or antiquarian inquiry, better described as research interests than research agenda. While the rise of the New Archaeology in the 1960s did much to promote the integration of scientific approaches with archaeological field methods, monastic studies have been less innovative, typically focussing upon the archaeological investigation of building ground-plans and architectural form. Monastic studies have also tended to be distorted by a preferential level of interest being shown in the Cistercians, in comparison to other religious orders. While the white monks were...

  12. Bibliography
    (pp. 233-264)
  13. Index
    (pp. 265-279)