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Title: Ritualisation and reappropriation : special deposits and ritual activity in domestic structures in early modern England
Author: Massey, Freya R.
ISNI:       0000 0004 5354 8678
Awarding Body: University of Sheffield
Current Institution: University of Sheffield
Date of Award: 2014
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While the act of concealing objects within the structural fabric of houses in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries has long been acknowledged, there has been no comprehensive survey and analysis of this practice within England. Earlier studies had been selective in the types of objects on which they focused, which resulted in an overemphasis on the ritual relating to contemporary beliefs in witchcraft and the supernatural. Four primary categories of objects can be identified: magical items, animal remains, natural materials and everyday objects. The use of such a broad range of objects suggests that the value that is held to be inherent in these items does not derive from their material or original function. Furthermore, a significant proportion of objects appear to have been either subject long-term use prior to their concealment, or were otherwise items of little or no monetary value. Therefore, it is concluded that the value of these items and the processes which lead to their ritualization are not as a result of any symbolic or apotropaic attributes they may hold, but is due to their prolonged use within the household and by its inhabitants. Despite differences in intention which differing treatments of object types may represent, all deposited items clearly relate back to the domestic space as a dynamic and valued space. All inevitably rely on the structural soundness and protection the house provides while simultaneously making use of objects which facilitate everyday activities and ensure the success and wellbeing of the household as a whole. The objects selected for deposit were not inherently of explicit ritual worth, but their regular use in one functional context allowed them to be functionally transformed and reused in a new one, albeit one directly linked to and informed by an earlier stage in their use-life. Therefore, these deposits are representative of the recursive interlinking of people, material culture and domestic space.
Supervisor: Willmott, Hugh Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available