Local churches and the conquest of the North: elite patronage and identity in Saxo-Norman Northumbria
By A. McClain
Early Medieval Northumbria: Kingdoms and Communities 450-1100, eds. D. Petts and S. Turner (Brepols, 2010)
Abstract: The social implications of the Saxo-Norman transition are particularly intriguing in Northumbria, where Anglian, Scandinavian, and Norman social structures, identities, and traditions of material culture converged. In the north, where royal control was less secure and there was a history of political independence, negotiating the transition required a calculated balance of imposed authority and regard for the institutions of the past. Local churches, already established as a focal point of religious and secular manorial life, were one of the primary arenas in which this dialogue of power was carried out.
Through an examination of the evidence for stone church buildings and funerary monuments in eleventh and twelfth-century Northumbria, this paper demonstrates how the elite utilized church patronage to negotiate authority and identity in a period of acute transition, and how the particular political and cultural characteristics of Yorkshire, County Durham, and Northumberland could affect this process.