Catherine Lucy Hollinghurst (University of Exeter)
University of Exeter: Masters by Research in Archaeology, October (2012)
In a world where religion played a far greater role in society than it does in the modern day, it is no surprise that those living in the medieval period desired a close association with the church. Nowhere is this association clearer than with the aristocracy of the time. This project looks in detail at the close relationship between Anglo-Norman castle lords and monastic institutions, considering the different ways in which they patronised religious houses and the spiritual and social gains that they could enjoy as a result of their support. By looking at the study area of the Anglo- Welsh Marches, an overview is built up of the connections between the monastery and the castle, before individual high status Anglo-Norman families and their associated religious institutions are considered to give a more complete and detailed picture. In addition to the social aspects of this association, the wider environments of monastic sites are also studied, raising notable similarities between religious and high status secular landscapes.
The aim of this project is to examine the patterns of Anglo-Norman religious patronage in the Welsh Marches between 1066 and 1300, with emphasis on the social and landscape aspects involved in benefactions. This area of study is relevant because of the great importance of religion in medieval life, and the high number of religious institutions founded or supported by the wealthier figures of society. In academic terms, it is currently relevant because of the developments in castle landscape studies, which focus on the ways in which the medieval designed landscape could demonstrate the power, wealth and status of those responsible for their creation. It will be interesting to judge the extent to which these concepts applying to a secular lordly landscape could also apply to an ecclesiastical site such as a monastery.