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Title: Spitting on an Angel, trampling a Saint : reading the English monastic tile pavement, c. 1220-1325
Author: Brett, Karen
ISNI:       0000 0004 8505 5026
Awarding Body: University of York
Current Institution: University of York
Date of Award: 2019
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The study of medieval pavements has traditionally focused upon the individual tile as an object of archaeological interest. Topics such as decorative techniques, methods of production and regional workshops have been closely examined in the past. However, because of this approach medieval tiles have become removed from their original setting as whole pavements within a building. This thesis, therefore, considers the medieval pavement within its wider architectural, liturgical and iconographical contexts. In so doing it brings medieval pavements into broader art-historical discussions. The most well-known and best-preserved English monastic pavements, such as those in Westminster Abbey’s chapter house and Prior Crauden’s Chapel, are used as illustrative case studies. Not only do they provide the most substantial evidence, but have also been the subject of scholarly research for over two hundred years. There is, therefore, an opportunity to offer new interpretations of these highly familiar pavements. The thesis begins by challenging the influence of nineteenth-century antiquarian publications on modern tile scholarship. The language that has previously been used to describe the layout of medieval pavements, for example, is especially problematic and requires re-evaluation. The thesis then moves on to consider how audience and function shaped the design of medieval pavements. Whilst the hierarchical positioning of heraldry within a church pavement indicates the importance of secular patronage, it can equally be shown that a church pavement served a liturgical function for its monastic community. Finally, the thesis demonstrates that pavements were just one part of a whole decorative and iconographic scheme. It is ultimately concluded that medieval monastic pavements were never intended only to be ‘read’ in one particular way. Tiles were a hard-wearing floor surface that would last for several generations. The meaning of that floor could adapt as its audience and the rituals performed on it changed.
Supervisor: Ayers, Tim Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available