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The Anglo-Saxon stone sculpture of Mercia as evidence for continental influence and cultural exchange

BERGIUS, GWENDOLINE,CLARE,COURTENA (2012) The Anglo-Saxon stone sculpture of Mercia as evidence for continental influence and cultural exchange. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.



Scholarship has long considered the style of stone sculpture produced in Mercia during the late eighth and early ninth centuries to reflect the direct influence of artistic activities on the Carolingian continent. Written sources point to the dialogue that existed between the Anglo-Saxon kingdom and the Carolingian courts in the years after Offa’s rise to the Mercian throne. This dialogue has been understood to signal Offa’s desire to raise his profile and that of his kingdom in the eyes of Charlemagne and the papacy.
Mercian sculpture, unparalleled in its range of form and ornament, has thus been thought to owe its unique character to borrowed contemporary continental styles and motifs.
By means of multi-disciplinary research combining art historical, archaeological and historical approaches, this thesis establishes the nature of the relationship between
Mercian sculpture and continental artistic production. Examination of the development of Carolingian sculptural styles against the backdrop of the enduring legacy of late
Antiquity reveals the variety of artistic models available to Mercian sculptors. Through close analysis of the stylistic parallels between Mercian sculpture and late Antique, eastern Christian, Lombard and Carolingian monumental art, this research reveals the motivations and mechanisms behind the adoption and adaptation of continental motifs.
Exploration of the means by which Mercian patrons and artists accessed continental motifs demonstrates the links between the forms and ornament of Mercian sculpture and the types of sites at which sculpture survives. These associations are argued to be reflective of the hierarchy of exchange networks that linked sites in the kingdom with centres of importance on the Continent and further afield. The development of
Carolingian and papal monumental art highlights the shared interest in and importance of late Antique imperialism. Despite a parallel agenda, Mercian sculptors are shown to
have accessed late Antique artistic sources largely independent of Carolingian intermediaries.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:Anglo-Saxon; Sculpture; Carolingian; Lombard; Late Antique; Mercia; Rome
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Social Sciences and Health > Archaeology, Department of
Thesis Date:2012
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:22 May 2012 10:43

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