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Saints, Monks and Bishops; cult and authority in the diocese of Wells (England) before the Norman Conquest

Saints, Monks and Bishops; cult and authority in the diocese of Wells (England) before the Norman Conquest

Costen, Michael (University of Bristol, UK)

Peregrinations: Journal of Medieval Art and Architecture, Volume 3, No. 2 (2011)

Abstract

This paper is founded upon a database, assembled by the writer, of some 3300 instances of dedications to saints and of other cult objects in the Diocese of Bath and Wells. The database makes it possible to order references to an object in many ways including in terms of dedication, location, date, and possible authenticity, and it makes data available to derive some history of the object in order to assess the reliability of the information it presents. Using the data, combined with other historical and archaeological evidence, this paper attempts to analyse the dedication policies, if any, followed by bishops and monasteries in the diocese in the tenth and eleventh centuries in order to ascertain whether or not this throws any light on the relationship between the secular and the regular branches of the Church in this period. This was a time when the newly founded diocese with its headquarters at the minster at Wells was seeking to establish itself, while the mid-tenth century also saw the revival and growth of a group of monasteries in Somerset, of which Glastonbury and Bath were by far the most important as part of the wider tenth-century resurgence of monasticism throughout Europe.

 

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