Embroidery and its early medieval audience: a case study of sensory engagement

Lester-Makin, A. (2020) Embroidery and its early medieval audience: a case study of sensory engagement. World Archaeology, 52(2), pp. 298-312. (doi: 10.1080/00438243.2020.1835530)

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Embroidery made and used in early medieval England (c. 450–1100) was considered fine art. Today 43 surviving examples known or believed to have been made in early medieval England have been stylistically and technically analysed, and placed within chronological timeframes. Recently the embroideries and their makers’ positions within early medieval society have also been explored, and ‘life’ biographies have been written for some pieces. Until now, the viewers’ experiences of encountering and interacting with embroidery have never been fully investigated. This paper uses sensory archaeology as a technique to access the early medieval ‘mindset’ in order to explore how people actually engaged with embroidery as opposed to what each piece was meant to show or tell them. The early 10th-century embroidered stole and maniple, which were rediscovered in the tomb of St Cuthbert in Durham Cathedral in the 19th century, are used as a case study.

Item Type:Articles
Keywords:Embroidery, textiles, gold, silk, liturgical vestments, early medieval, St Cuthbert, England, sensory archaeology, senses, Anglo-Saxon, ecclesiastical, Christian, church, religion.
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Makin, Dr Alexandra
Authors: Lester-Makin, A.
Subjects:C Auxiliary Sciences of History > CC Archaeology
College/School:College of Arts > School of Humanities > Archaeology
Journal Name:World Archaeology
Publisher:Taylor & Francis
ISSN (Online):1470-1375
Published Online:12 December 2020

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