The Cosmatesque Mosaics of Westminster Abbey: The Pavements and Royal Tombs: History, Archaeology, Architecture and Conservation [Hardback]

Warwick Rodwell (Author); David S. Neal (Author)

ISBN: 9781789252347 | Published by: Oxbow Books | Year of Publication: 2019 | Language: English 724p, H305 x W240 (mm) b/w and colour

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The Cosmatesque Mosaics of Westminster Abbey


Westminster Abbey contains the only surviving medieval Cosmatesque mosaics outside Italy. They comprise: the ‘Great Pavement’ in the sanctuary; the pavement around the shrine of Edward the Confessor; the saint’s tomb and shrine; Henry III’s tomb; the tomb of a royal child, and some other pieces. Surprisingly, the mosaics have never before received detailed recording and analysis, either individually or as an assemblage.

The proposed publication, in two volumes, will present a holistic study of this outstanding group of monuments in their historical architectural and archaeological context. The shrine of St Edward is a remarkable survival, having been dismantled at the Dissolution and re-erected (incorrectly) in 1557 under Queen Mary. Large areas of missing mosaic were replaced with plaster on to which mosaic designs were carefully painted. This 16th-century fictive mosaic is unique in Britain. Conservation of the sanctuary pavement was accompanied by full archaeological recording with every piece of mosaic decoration drawn and coloured by David Neal, phase plans have been prepared, and stone-by-stone examination undertaken, petrologically identifying and recording the locations of all the materials present. It has revealed that both the pavements and tombs include a range of exotic stone types. The Cosmati study has shed fresh light on every aspect of the unique series of monuments in Westminster Abbey; this work will fill a major lacuna in our knowledge of 13th-century English art of the first rank, and will command international interest.

Table of Contents

Foreword by The Dean of Westminster
The Pavements
1 The cosmatesque pavements and monuments: introduction and context
2 Historiography and the antiquarian record
3 The sanctuary and high altar pavements: past interventions, damage and repair
4 Description of the sanctuary pavement
5 Surveying, analyzing and evaluating the sanctuary and high altar pavements
6 Conservation and repair of the sanctuary pavement by Vanessa Simeoni
7 St Edward the Confessor’s chapel pavement
8 Materials employed in the pavements and monuments
The Royal Tombs
9 St Edward’s chapel and the context of the shrine
10 The shrine-tomb of St Edward the Confessor, I: description and primary fabric
11 The shrine-tomb of St Edward the Confessor, II: Tudor reconstruction and later history
12 Tomb of King Henry III
13 Child’s tomb in the south ambulatory
14 Related monuments and furnishings
15 The Westminster mosaic assemblage: summary, assessment and dating
Appendix 1. The shrine in the records by Matthew Payne
Archival references
Appendix 2. Quantification of tesserae in the mosaic pavements and monuments
Notes to chapters 9 to 15
Abbreviations and bibliography
Plans 3 and 4 (fold-outs at end of volume)

Reviews & Quotes

"…a series of hugely important thoughts and conclusions about the material evidence which offer a new set of narratives about Henry’s presbytery and his place as patron of the new medium — Cosmatesque mosaics."
Neil Christie
Medieval Archaeology (12/10/2021)

"There is a good index, and pages are helpfully numbered consectively across the two volumes. A wonderful achievement."
Mike Pitts
British Archaeology (02/04/2020)

"The two volumes comprise work of lasting quality and importance."
Nigel Saul
Church Monuments (03/08/2021)

"…this is a monumental study, a work of great scholarship with breath-taking illustrations. […] an invaluable and comprehensive historical work."
Allan Brodie
Ancient Monuments Society

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