The Parish and the Chapel in Medieval Britain and Norway

June 2018
20 black and white, 21 line illustrations
233 pages
23.4x15.6 cm
St Andrews Studies in Scottish History
ISBN: 9781783273140
Format: Hardback
Boydell Press
BIC HBLC1, 1D, 2AB, 3H
BISAC HIS037010, REL015000, ARC005000

The Parish and the Chapel in Medieval Britain and Norway

Sarah E. Thomas

Interdisciplinary study of chapels provides a more complex and fuller picture of engagement with the Church and Christianity in the Middle Ages.
From the eleventh and twelfth centuries, Latin Christendom was increasingly focussed, both institutionally and culturally, on Rome and the papacy. A key element of these changes was a growing concern with the provision of pastoral care and the standardisation of practices and beliefs. However, whilst parish churches have received considerable scholarly attention, chapels have been largely neglected, despite the fact that they were widespread in the landscape of medieval Britain and Norway, found in locations ranging from villages to castles, and central to the life of many.
This book, the first major comparative study of the subject, begins by examining what a chapel was, who used them, and their purpose. Using archaeological remains, the wider parish landscape - settlements, transport and geography - and historical records such as papal letters, it then categorises chapels according to function and their relationship with the parish church, showing that they served a far greater range of purposes than has previously been assumed. The author also considers whether the drive for uniformity had an impact on religious landscapes in Britain and Norway, arguing that there is little evidence of a Viking impact on chapel organisation in the British Isles, with the evidence pointing towards Scandinavian adoption of pre-existing organisation and local cults.

Sarah Thomas gained her PhD from the University of Glasgow; she is currently a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Stirling.

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Table of Contents

The Roles of Parishes and Parish Churches in the Community
Dependent Chapels
Private Chapels
Locational Chapels: Distinctive Places and Commemorations
Cult Chapels: Pilgrimage, Local, National and International
Chapels in the Ecclesiastical Landscape: Uniformity or Localism?

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