Caves and Ritual in Medieval Europe, AD 500-1500 [Paperback]

Knut Andreas Bergsvik(Editor); Marion Dowd(Editor)

ISBN: 9781789258073 | Published by: Oxbow Books | Year of Publication: 2022 | Language: English 324p, H11 x W8.6, B/w and color
Status: In Stock - Available

Also available as an ebook from:
Buy From Amazon Amazon
Buy From Apple Apple
Buy From Barnes and Noble Barnes & Noble
Buy From Kobo Kobo

Casemate will earn a small commission if you buy an ebook after clicking a link here.

Caves and Ritual in Medieval Europe, AD 500-1500


Caves and rockshelters in Europe have traditionally been associated with prehistory, and in some regions cave archaeology has become synonymous with the Palaeolithic. However, there is abundant evidence that caves and rockshelters were important foci for activities in historic times. During the medieval period (here taken as AD 500-1500) caves were used for short-term shelter, habitation, specialized craft activities, storage, as hideaways and for tending animals. Caves were also used for religious purposes. Caves and ritual in medieval Europe, AD 500-1500 focuses on this neglected field of research - the ritual and religious use of caves. It draws together interdisciplinary studies by leading specialists from across Europe: from Iberia to Crimea, and from Malta to northern Norway. The different religions and rituals in this vast area are unified by the use of caves and rockshelters, indicating that the beliefs in these natural places - and in the power of the underworld - were deeply embedded in many different religious practices. Christianity was widespread and firmly established in most of Europe at this time, and many of the contributions deal with different types of Christian practices, such as the use of rock-cut churches, unmodified caves for spiritual retreat, caves reputedly visited by saints, and caves as places for burials. But parallel to this, some caves were associated with localized popular religious practices, which sometimes had pre-Christian origins. Muslims in Iberia used caves for spiritual retreat, and outside the Christian domain in northern Europe, caves and rockshelters were places for carving symbols among Pictish groups, places for human burial, for bear burials amongst the Sámi, and places for crafting and votive deposition for Norse populations.

Table of Contents

List of contributors


Chapter 1: Caves in medieval Europe: religious and secular use

Knut Andreas Bergsvik and Marion Dowd


Chapter 2: Entering other realms: Sámi burials in natural rock cavities and caves

in northern Fenno-Scandinavia between 900 ­BC and AD 1700

Asgeir Svestad

Chapter 3: The use and perception of caves and rockshelters in late Iron Age and medieval Western Norway c. AD 550-1550

Knut Andreas Bergsvik

Chapter 4: A holy cave and womb: the sanctuary on the island of Selja and the birth of the first Norwegian saints

Alf Tore Hommedal

Chapter 5: Signs from the Pictish underground: early medieval cave ritual at the Sculptor’s Cave, northeast Scotland (c. AD 400-900)

Lindsey Büster and Ian Armit

Chapter 6: Marking caves in Scotland and Iceland: characterising an early medieval phenomenon

Kristján Ahronson

Chapter 7: Saintly associations with caves in early medieval Ireland (AD 400-1169)

Marion Dowd


Chapter 8: Hidden in the depths, far from people. Funerary activities in the Lower Gallery of La Garma and the use of natural caves as burial places in early medieval Cantabria, northern Spain

Pablo Arias, Roberto Ontañón, Enrique Gutiérrez Cuenca, José Ángel Hierro Gárate, Francisco Etxeberria, Lourdes Herrasti and Paloma Uzquiano

Chapter 9: Christian and Muslim patterns of secular and religious cave use in the Iberian Peninsula in Late Antiquity and the early middle Ages (fifth/sixth to eleventh/twelfth centuries AD)

Manel Feijoó

Chapter 10: The occupation and use of natural caves in the Ligurian-Piedmontese region between Late Antiquity and the early Middle Ages (fifth to late seventh century)

Paolo de Vingo

Chapter 11: The culture of rock-cut cemeteries and artificial ritual caves in Roman and Byzantine Malta

Mario Buhagiar

Chapter 12: Investigating cave dwelling in medieval Malta (AD 800-1530)

Keith Buhagiar


Chapter 13: The use of caves for religious purposes in early medieval Germany (AD 500-1200)

Mechthild Schulze-Dörrlamm

Chapter 14: Knights in the dark: on the function of Polish caves in the Middle Ages

Michał Wojenka

Chapter 15: Medieval cave sites in the Czech Republic

Vladimír Peša

Chapter 16: Bull Rock Cave (Býčí skála), Czech Republic, and its environs in the Middle Ages

Martin Golec

Chapter 17: The form and fabric of Late Antique and medieval cave use in Slovenia

Agni Prijatelj

Chapter 18: The triconchial medieval cave churches of Eski-Kermen (Crimea): recent results of investigations

Nicolas V. Dneprovsky

Additional Information

GoogleLink No

Product Tags

Use spaces to separate tags. Use single quotes (') for phrases.