The Lost Art of the Anglo-Saxon World: the Sacred and Secular Power of Embroidery

Lester-Makin, A. (2019) The Lost Art of the Anglo-Saxon World: the Sacred and Secular Power of Embroidery. Series: Ancient textiles series, 35. Oxbow Books: Oxford. ISBN 9781789251449 (doi: 10.2307/j.ctv138ws2t)

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The Lost Art of the Anglo-Saxon World: the sacred and secular power of embroidery is the first substantial history of early medieval embroideries and their context within the British Isles. The book brings together and analyses for the first time all 43 embroideries believed to have been made in the British Isles and Ireland during the early medieval period. New research carried out on the embroideries that are accessible today, includes the collection of technical data, stitch analysis, observations of condition and wear-marks, and microscopic photographs. A survey of archaeological data and existing published and archival sources was also carried out. The resulting research was then used to write the ‘story’ of embroidery, including its producers, their techniques and the material functions and metaphorical meanings of embroidery within early medieval Anglo-Saxon society. Five major themes are discussed: the evolution of embroidery production, from a community-based activity to organised workshops in urban settings employing standardised skill levels; changing material use, from fibres produced locally for specific projects to large batches bought in and stored until needed; embroidery and its meaning – that it was not simply used decoratively but incorporated and enacted different meanings within different parts of society; the status of embroiderers within early medieval society; and production systems in Anglo-Saxon England and Ireland. The results of these five themes inform a discussion of embroidery contexts, use and deposition, and the significance of this form of material culture and the importance of its makers within society. This book demonstrates that an interdisciplinary approach to the study of early medieval embroidery can give us new insight and a deeper understanding of early medieval society as a whole. It also shows, beyond doubt, that embroidery from this era was considered an art form.

Item Type:Books
Keywords:Embroidery, Anglo-Saxon, early medieval, gold, silk, Bayeux Tapestry, wool, linen, women, England, Wales, Ireland, Scotland, Viking, leather, stitch, sew, royalty, religion, ecclesiastical, Christian, pagan, shoes, production, object biography, textile archaeology.
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
Publisher:Oxbow Books
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