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Occupying Space in Medieval and Early Modern Britain and Ireland

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Edited By Gregory Hulsman and Caoimhe Whelan

This collection offers a range of interdisciplinary viewpoints on the occupation of space and theories of place in Britain and Ireland throughout the medieval and early modern periods. It considers space in both its physical and abstract sense, exploring literature, history, art, manuscript studies, religion, geography and archaeology. The buildings and ruins still occupying our urban and rural spaces bridge the gap between the medieval and the modern; manuscripts and objects hold keys to unlocking the secrets of the past. Focusing on the varied uses of space enriches our understanding of the material culture of the medieval and early modern period. The essays collected here offer astute observations on this theme and generate new insights into areas such as social interaction, cultural memory, sacred space and ideas of time and community.
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The Tactile Account of Anglo-Saxon Ivory (550–1066): Image, Status, Materiality and Economics (Lyndsey Smith)

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← 210 | 211 →LYNDSEY SMITH

The Tactile Account of Anglo-Saxon Ivory (550–1066): Image, Status, Materiality and Economics

Ivory has over the centuries been actively sought, acquired and carved into religious, secular, utilitarian and aesthetic objects for the wealthy. An in-depth investigation of these objects as cultural artefacts within – and moving between – various loci offers an interesting case study of how items can perform various functions over time and relate to and engage with various social and cultural locations. In 1926, Margaret Longhurst stated in her preface to English Ivories that although ‘ivory in its strictest sense is confined to the tusk of an elephant’, historically the term has also included other dentine and skeletal substances. In relation to the period 550–1066, the term ivory not only includes items made from the ‘hard, creamy white modified dentine’ from a tusked mammal such as an elephant or walrus that would normally be utilised for purposes of protection or aggression, but also whalebone,1 taken from any number of the species swimming in the English Channel or North Sea. Regardless of which species a piece of ivory derives from, it is used to reflect not only the portrayal of an image or story but also to project the social stature of an individual or institution; known for its creamy colour, smoothness to the touch, its fine grain and relative ease in carving, as well as its ability to offset other (inset) materials and polychromy, its exotic and luxurious...

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