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Durham e-Theses
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The appropriation of meaning: an examination of roman stones re-used in an Anglo-Saxon context

Catling, Joanne Elizabeth (1998) The appropriation of meaning: an examination of roman stones re-used in an Anglo-Saxon context. Masters thesis, Durham University.



Using the theoretical approaches to monuments devised by Richard Bradley (1993; 1998) I have explored the thesis that through the re-use of Roman sites, forms, and particularly, stonework, the Anglo-Saxon church and its patrons sought to 'appropriate' the influence of the Roman past. 'Appropriation' in this context is used to describe the deliberate selection of elements from the 'past' for incorporation into the 'present'. For appropriation to be effective there needs to be a shared perception of meaning. This is dependent upon memory and experience which are reinforced through the use of image and language. Appropriation forms part of the means through which institutions that constitute 'society' are reproduced and maintained. The geographical delimitation of the research is the pre-1974 county of Northumberland. Within these boundaries I have examined the extant remains of Anglo-Saxon churches founded before 1100A.D. for evidence of the re-use of Roman stonework. The relationship between these churches and the landscape, both remaining Roman sites and natural features, was also assessed. From the data gathered I have come to the conclusion that there is evidence, particularly in the eighth century, that the Anglo-Saxon Church hierarchy sought to 'appropriate' meaning from the Roman past through the re-use of Roman stonework. After the Synod of Whitby in 663 AD the Church sought to reject the 'barbarism' of the western British Christian tradition in favour of the civilizing practices of Rome. Altars in particular, seem to have been re-used in ways which indicate an attempt to simultaneously repress pagan associations and appropriate the power of the image. This practice is mirrored by examples from the continental Christian Church. As the Anglo-Saxon period progressed the desire to appropriate meaning remained but the focus of emphasis shifted from the Roman past to the Church's own past, with churches being sited in locations associated with indigenous saints.

Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Award:Master of Arts
Thesis Date:1998
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:13 Sep 2012 15:50

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