The Idea of the Castle in Medieval England

The Idea of the Castle in Medieval England

Abigail Wheatley


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York Medieval Press



A new way of looking at the medieval castle - as a cultural reflection of the society that produced it, seen through art and literature.
Medieval castles have traditionally been explained as feats of military engineering and tools of feudal control, but Abigail Wheatley takes a different approach, looking at a range of sources usually neglected in castle studies. Evidence from contemporary literature and art reveals the castle's place at the heart of medieval culture, as an architecture of ideas every bit as sophisticated as the church architecture of the period.
This study offers a genuinely fresh perspective. Most castle scholars confine themselves to historical documents, but Wheatley examines literary and artistic evidence for its influence on and response to contemporary castle architecture. Sermons, seals and ivory caskets, local legends and Roman ruins all have their part to play. What emerges is a fascinating web of cultural resonances: the castle is implicated in every aspect of medieval consciousness, from private religious contemplation to the creation of national mythologies. This book makes a compelling case for a new, interdisciplinary approach to castle studies.

ABIGAIL WHEATLEY studied for her PhD at York University's Centre for Medieval Studies.


17 colour, 5 black and white illustrations
192 pages
23.4x15.6 cm
Hardback, 9781903153147, December 2004
Paperback, 9781903153611, July 2015
Library eBook
York Medieval Press
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Related Titles

Table of Contents

The Idea of the Castle
The Urban Castle
The Spiritual Castle
The Imperial Castle


There has been a great deal of talk lately about enlarging the scope of castle studies. But few have achieved as much as Abigail Wheatley in this genuinely groundbreaking book. MEDIEVAL ARCHAEOLOGY

A powerful exposition of an invigorating approach to castle studies. (...) It is deeply researched, lucidly and convincingly written. CASEMATE