Monastic Wales: New Approaches
We are delighted to announce the appearance of Monastic Wales: New Approaches edited by Janet Burton and Karen Stöber and published by University of Wales Press. The volume contains fifteen essays organized around four main themes: Foundation, Transition and Transformation; State-Building, Authority and Power; Movement and Social Interaction; Cultural Identity and Production. Contributors are Andrew Abram, David Austin, Jemma Bezant, Janet Burton, Jane Cartwright, Arlene Hogan, Kathryn Hurlock, Dafydd Johnston, Ceridwen Lloyd-Morgan, Anne Müller, Helen Nicholson, Jens Röhrkasten, David Stephenson, and Karen Stöber.
To Dr Edel Bhreathnach, a member of our advisory board and the director of the ‘Monastic Ireland’ project on her appointment as CEO of the Discovery Programme, the main Archaeological/Historical arm of Ireland’s Heritage Council. We wish her well in her new post. Edel and Janet will be taking Monastic Ireland and Monastic Wales to Stirling in July, to a conference entitled ‘Plantations Amidst Savagery? The reformed monastic orders in North Europe c. 1100 to c. 1600’.
More good news
We have been successful in an application to the European Science Foundation for financial support for a workshop ‘In the shadow of empires’, to be held in December 2013. This will bring together invited international scholars (currently we have acceptances from scholars from from Vienna, Prague, Göttingen, Kassel, Budapest, Dublin, Madrid, Leeds, as well as Wales and Catalunya) to discuss aspects of the role of the reformed monastic orders in the processes of state building. The workshop will be held in Eichstätt, Germany, and hosted by Dr Anne Müller, to whom we are indebted for masterminding the application. Thank you Anne!
Karen and Janet are delighted to announce the appearance of volume 1 of a new international journal of which they are the general editors. The Journal of Medieval Monastic Studies (JMMS) is published annually by Brepols, Turnhout, Belgium.
November / December 2012
We have a new addition to the Project team. Naomi Johnson, who has an MA in Medieval and Early Modern History from Bristol and who is now living and working in Bangor has volunteered her services to Monastic Wales as a researcher. We are grateful to her for her help. Welcome aboard, Naomi.
In early November Karen took Monastic Wales to Canada. Following her paper at the North American Conference on British Studies (NACBS), she handed out MW flyers and bookmarks to an interested audience who will hopefully boost the numbers of our north American readership.
Janet was up and about as well, though her travels did not take her as far afield. She was invited to deliver the 2012 J. E. Lloyd lecture at Bangor University, on the Monastic Wales project.
We have news from Anne Müller in Eichstätt, who recently attended a workshop at the Institute of European History of Art at the University of Heidelberg, on the theme of space within Franciscan friaries - of problems identifying the original function of claustral buildings, of the physical structure and symbolism of claustral compounds, and spatial relationships between the inner monastic and outer secular worlds. Anne's paper considered conceptions, structures and meanings of Franciscan spaces in Wales. She looked at the three houses that the Franciscan Order built in Wales, c. 1250 - Llanfaes (a foundation of the Welsh princes in Gwynedd), Cardiff (built close to the castle of the English lords of Glamorgan), and Carmarthen (a royal foundation in a royal town) - to show how religious space in this politically fragmented society was constructed and used to support distinct, and, as in the case of Wales, competing cultures and identities.
September 2012 - The coming of the friars
The friars have arrived on the MW website! Thanks to the efforts of our researcher, Julie Kerr, the friars now appear on Monastic Wales. Please note that information on individual houses of friars is still being added to the website, but you can already enjoy this new, and important, element of Monastic Wales!
Keep an eye open for articles on the friars by Dr Anne Müller.
Events across the border in Cheshire….
Dr Andrew Abram, lecturer in Medieval History from the School of Archaeology, History and Anthropology, University of Wales Trinity Saint David and a member of the ‘Monastic Wales’ team recently strayed across Offa's Dyke to help celebrate St Augustine’s day at Norton Priory Museum in Cheshire. Founded in 1134 as an Augustinian priory, Norton is the best excavated monastic site in Europe and preserves its twelfth-century undercroft. Norton Priory Museum and Gardens in Runcorn has received initial support from the Heritage Lottery Fund for the project, Monastery to Museum - Norton 900. Development funding of over £250,000 has been awarded to help the site progress its plans to apply for a full grant at a later date. Andrew, who has been involved with the museum for over 10 years, gave a lecture on the significance of the Augustinians and Norton Priory. He has been invited to participate in compiling a research document for the future development of the site, and is currently working on an edited collection of the charters of the house.
Although it is only a month since our last ‘news’ we did not want to delay in announcing that we have three new members of our advisory board. We are delighted that Professor Blanca Gari of the University of Barcelona, Professor Petr Sommer of the Centre for Medieval Studies at the University of Prague, and Professor Dr Hedwig Röckelein of the Georg-August-Universität Göttingen, have agreed to join us.
Since our last report in March 2012 the Monastic Wales team has continued to be busy. Our researcher, Dr Julie Kerr, honorary fellow of St Andrews University, has been working away on the website, with the addition of more photographs, and bibliographical and archival sources, and details on standing remains. Ian Bass, who has just completed his BA in Medieval Studies with a first class honours degree (congratulations Ian!) has joined the team and gathered together material on the foundation of houses of friars. As Ian is intending to return to Lampeter for his MA in Medieval Studies we look forward to more contributions by him.
Monastic Wales in Europe
At the end of our March news we stated that we would be taking Monastic Wales to Prague and Dresden, and so we did. Dr Anne Müller, who last year was a visiting fellow at the School of Archaeology, History and Anthropology at University of Wales: Trinity Saint David, was awarded a short term fellowship at the University of Prague’s Centre for Medieval Studies this spring, and arranged for a workshop at which Karen and Janet were able to make a presentation to our Czech colleagues on the Monastic Wales project. This was well received, and we hope that the visit will lead to research collaboration between us and scholars in Prague working on monasteries in medieval Bohemia. Janet went on from Prague to Dresden, where she lectured to a seminar at FOVOG (an international centre for the comparative study of religious orders) and where she took the opportunity to spread the word about Monastic Wales to a German audience.
Early July saw a whole troop of researchers from the Monastic Wales and Strata Florida projects - Karen, Janet, Julie, Anne, and David Austin - in Catalunya, for the annual conference organised by Karen and Janet for the University of Lleida at the Monastir de les Avellanes near Balaguer. This year it was on the subject of monastic space in the medieval monastic world. Julie delivered a wonderful paper on monastic hospitality and space in the medieval monastery, and Anne on ‘Creating heaven on earth: concepts of space in medieval cloisters’. Both projects loomed large in David Austin’s magisterial presentation on Strata Florida, entitled ‘Sacred space and sacred landscape’.
And Monastic Wales in Leeds
As usual July also saw Karen and Janet at the International Medieval Congress at Leeds, where ‘Monastic Wales’ sponsored one session and Janet and Karen participated in a panel organised by the international journal Cîteaux: Commentaria Cistercienses. Those who attended (impartial observers we hasten to add!) voted these sessions among the best of the entire congress. We are grateful to Dr Jane Cartwright of TSD, Tracy Collins of University College, Cork, and Kimm Curran of Glasgow University for their splendid papers on medieval religious women: Jane on the Middle Welsh life of St Ursula, Tracy on the archaeology of female religious houses in Ireland, and Kimm on nunneries in Scotland.
Monastic Wales: New Approaches
We are happy to report that we now have a publication date for the collection of essays, Monastic Wales: new approaches, by University of Wales Press. All being well it will appear in March 2013.
Finally … a call for photographs
From the beginning we intended the website to be interactive, and we have been gratified by the responses we have had, as you have e-mailed us with your views on the website, and pointed out errors and omissions. Thank you - it is appreciated.
Now we are reviewing our photo galleries and find that there are some gaps. If you think you can help us to bridge these gaps please e-mail us your photographs of monastic sites in Wales. We especially need photographs of the friaries and any remaining buildings at, and the sites of:
Bardsey; Carmarthen; Cymer; Llangua; Llantarnam; Maenan ; Malpas; Pill; Puffin Island; Ruthin; St Tudwal’s Island; Caldey; Haverfordwest.
The last eighteen months have been a busy time for the ‘Monastic Wales’project. Work has continued apace on the website, courtesy of our researcher, Dr Julie Kerr, honorary fellow of St Andrews University. Several articles have been added to the portfolio, and the web pages of the individual houses have been enhanced. Janet Burton and Karen Stöber (who in February 2011 took up a prestigious research post at the University of Lleida, Catalunya), have been out and about giving presentations to increase awareness of the importance of the project. They were both at the Ceredigion Local History Forum, and at the Medieval Wales Colloquium (Bangor) in late 2010. Janet gave a presentation as part of a lecture on Valle Crucis to the local branch of the National Trust in March 2011, and followed this up with a tour of Valle Crucis during the branch’s summer day out in June. They were both in action at the English Monastic Archives Conference at University College London in June (reminding the audience of the importance of what happened west of Offa’s Dyke!).
‘Monastic Wales’ sponsored two sessions at the International Medieval Congress at Leeds in July, which were well attended. Word is getting around! A further round of action continued with the academic year 2011-12 and in the last month alone Janet has lectured on ‘Monastic Wales’ to local history groups in Carmarthen, Llansantffraed and Llanidloes.
Further afield Karen presented ‘Monastic Wales’ at the International Medieval Meeting in Lleida in July 2011, and a week later Janet and Karen gave a short introduction to the project to delegates of the annual monastic conference in Catalunya which they co-organize. In September Karen took Monastic Wales to the annual CARMEN (‘Co-operative for the Advancement of Research through a Medieval European Network’) conference at Segovia, where the project was enthusiastically received. A workshop held at Lampeter in June with colleagues from Ireland, aimed at exploring collaborative research projects, resulted in a pilot project, led by scholars from University College Dublin, to produce a website using Monastic Wales as a template. This Summer we will be taking ‘Monastic Wales’ to Prague and Dresden.
Meanwhile Janet and Karen and the interdisciplinary team of scholars they have brought together have submitted a collection of essays, Monastic Wales: new approaches, to University of Wales Press, where it is going through the processes of publication. Their next task will be the completion of a more popular book, Abbeys and Priories of Wales which was commissioned by UWP.