The archaeology of memory : an investigation into the links between collective memory and the architecture of the parish church in late medieval Yorkshire
This thesis examines the ways in which memory, particularly collective memory,
influenced the architectural development of the parish church in later medieval
Yorkshire. It is argued that the parish church, while being the focal point for the
religious activity, also functioned as the central location for a great deal of social
interaction within the parish and the architectural arrangement of these buildings
carried specific mnemonic messages regarding issues that were central to communal
stability. The manner by which this memorial significance could be manipulated by
certain individuals and groups within society is also addressed. It is also argued, that
the manipulation of memory was a strategy employed by wealthy in reaction to the
reduction of their actual coercive power in the later part of the fourteenth century.
The concept of the collective memory is viewed in relation to strategies
employed by the late medieval community as a whole as a means of social regulation.
The issueo f social surveillancea, meansb y which socialc ohesionw as maintained
andi nter-communatle nsionw as kept in check,i s discussedin somed epth.
The re-usea nd repositioningo f architecturaml ateriali n later building phases
is looked at in some detail. It is argued that this, in many instances, can be seen to be
related to the use of the past in symbolic terms.
The architectural significance of a number of late medieval Yorkshire
churches is examined, with three churches receiving closer scrutiny. The three parish
churches which form the detailed case studies are Catterick, Sheriff Hutton and
Wensley. In each case the historical and archaeological background is considered in
order to present a contextualised discussion of the main themes of the thesis.