Crossing Boundaries: Interdisciplinary Approaches to the Art, Material Culture, Language and Literature of the Early Medieval World [Hardback]

Eric Cambridge (Editor); Jane Hawkes (Editor)

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ISBN: 9781785703072 | Published by: Oxbow Books | Year of Publication: 2017 | Language: English 320p, H279 x W215 (mm) b/w and colour

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Crossing Boundaries


Interdisciplinary studies are increasingly widely recognised as being among the most fruitful approaches to generating original perspectives on the medieval past. In this major collection of 27 papers, contributors transcend traditional disciplinary boundaries to offer new approaches to a number of themes ranging in time from late antiquity to the high Middle Ages. The main focus is on material culture, but also includes insights into the compositional techniques of Bede and the Beowulf-poet, and the strategies adopted by anonymous scribes to record information in unfamiliar languages.

Contributors offer fresh insights into some of the most iconic survivals from the period, from the wooden doors of Sta Sabina in Rome to the Ruthwell Cross, and from St Cuthbert’s coffin to the design of its final resting place, the Romanesque cathedral at Durham. Important thematic surveys reveal early medieval Welsh and Pictish carvers interacting with the political and intellectual concerns of the wider Insular and continental world.

Other contributors consider what it is to be Viking, revealing how radically present perceptions shape our understanding of the past, how recent archaeological work reveals the inadequacy of the traditional categorisation of the Vikings as ‘incomers’, and how recontextualising Viking material culture can lead to unexpected insights into famous historical episodes such as King Edgar’s boat trip on the Dee.

Recent landmark finds, notably the runic-inscribed Saltfleetby spindle whorl and the sword pommel from Beckley, are also published here for the first time in comprehensive analyses which will remain the fundamental discussions of these spectacular objects for many years to come.This book will be indispensable reading for everyone interested in medieval culture.

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Introduction: Crossing Boundaries, by Jane Hawkes
Part I. New perspectives on insular sculpture and art
1.  The riddle of the Ruthwell Cross: audience, intention and originator reconsidered
Clare Stancliffe
2.  Heads you lose
Rosemary Cramp
3.  Depiction of martyrdom in Anglo-Saxon art and literature: contexts and contrasts
Elizabeth Coatsworth
4.  Crucifixion iconography on early medieval sculpture in Wales
Nancy Edwards
5.  Pictish relief sculpture: some problems of interpretation
 George Henderson
6.  Reviewing the relationship between Pictish and Mercian art fifty years on
 Isabel Henderson
Part II. Objects and meanings
7. The Santa Sabina crucifixion panel: ‘between two living creatures you will be known’ on Good Friday, at ‘Hierusalem’ in fifth-century Rome
Éamonn Ó Carragáin
8.  The body in the box: the iconography of the Cuthbert Coffin
Jane Hawkes
9.  Reading the Trinity in the Harley Psalter
Catherine Karkov
10.  Wundorsmiþa geweorc: a Mercian sword-pommel from the Beckley area, Oxfordshire
Leslie Webster
11.  A Scandinavian gold brooch from Norfolk
James Graham-Campbell
12.  A glimpse of the heathen Norse in Lincolnshire
John Hines
13.  Archaeological evidence for local liturgical practices: the lead plaques from Bury St Edmunds
Helen Gittos
Part III. Settlements, sites and structures
14.  The importance of being Viking
Deirdre O’Sullivan
15.  A tale of two cemeteries: Viking burials at Cumwhitton and Carlisle, Cumbria
Caroline Paterson
16.  Transactions on the Dee: the ‘exceptional’ collection of early sculpture from St John’s, Chester
Paul Everson and David Stocker
17.  Whitby before the mid-seventh century: some ways forward?
Lorna Watts
18.  Looking at, and for, inscribed stones: a note from the Brough of Birsay, Orkney
Christopher D. Morris
19.  An apsidal building in Brixworth churchyard, Northamptonshire
David Parsons
20.  Designing and redesigning Durham Cathedral
Eric Cambridge
Part IV. Constructing meanings
21.  The hero’s journey in Bede’s Ecclesiastical History: the case of King Edwin  
Colm O’Brien
22.  Furnishing Heorot
Gale Owen-Crocker
23.  A miracle of St Hilda in a migrating manuscript
A.I. Doyle
24.  A dastardly deed by Ranulph Flambard, Bishop of Durham?
Lindsay Allason-Jones and David Heslop
25.  Varieties of language-contact in Anglo-Saxon manuscripts
John Frankis
26.  Flodibor rex Francorum
Herman Moisl
27.  Lexical heritage in Northumberland: a toponymic field-walk
Diana Whaley
Richard N. Bailey publications, compiled by Derek Craig

Reviews & Quotes

"A satisfying and scholarly compendium."
Carly Hilts
Current Archaeology (05/07/2017)

"Overall, there is much her o finterst to anyone with a broad interest in early medieval art and culture in Viking-Age prison… [ there is ] much that will consildate, develop and enhance how we understand the early medeival world in the North."
David Petts
Medieval Archaeology (05/02/2019)

"[…] a collection of excellent essays that make a significant contribution to Anglo-Saxon studies."
Greg Waite
Parergon (06/10/2020)

"The collection is stimulating and thought-provoking, and undoubtedly some of the more substantial contributions will prove to be seminal. In its totality, the collection contributes in depth and breadth to the refining of our understanding of the early medieval world. One can only hope that its methodology will prove inspirational to an even wider field."
Anna Gannon
Early Medieval Europe (29/01/2019)

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