In search of cult [archaeological investigations in honour of Philip Rahtz]

A festschrift in the form of a collection of case studies and exploratory essays beginning with an introduction 'In search of cult' by Martin Carver (v-ix). Here, the general themes of the collection are outlined. This proceeds from a combination of 'cult' as an observable 'fossilised' ideology distinct from economic and/or environmental imperatives, through the subsequent problems of isolating what were, or may have been, conflicting interests within that apparently shared 'cognitive map', and the final potential distortions introduced by the contemporary observer/interpreter. The whole was instigated by way of tribute to Philip Rahtz who has contributed to the search for cult via his practical archaeological endeavours.Grouped into four chronological sections, the first – prehistory – begins with 'The cult of relics in prehistoric Britain' by Ann Woodward (1-7). Here, a comparative technique is chronologically reversed, so that Neolithic cult practices are illuminated via recourse to later ritual. Particular note is made of the predominance of male/female, right-/left-hand-side bones in prehistoric tombs and IA–medieval tombs/shrines. 'Lindow man and other British bog bodies' by Rick Turner (9-20) explores IA bog burial, as well as the later attitudes to, and uses of, an apparently evocative practice. 'Labyrinths and mazes' by Graham Webster (21-35) considers the ancient image of the labyrinth, including foreign and British manifestations, exploring connections with primitive dances, female anatomy and the life-cycle. 'Post-erection attitudes: aftermath of a henge monument' by Margaret Gray (37-40) takes as its theme the Devil's Quoits and their destruction over successive generations, to their current status as cropmarks.The Dark Ages section begins with 'Death and the archaeologist' by S M Hirst (41-3) which considers the desire to characterise mortuary practice in earlier societies according to contemporary society's view, taking the Sewerby Gr41 burial – possibly a live interment – as an example. It is cautioned that both sanitised and romanticised versions of earlier societies have their place, but that neither should pervade. 'An Anglo-Saxon "cunning woman" from Bidford-on-Avon' by Tania M Dickinson (45-54) chronicles the Bidford HB2 burial which exhibited many gravegoods. Of particular note are a triangular spangle, copper alloy tubes, 'miniature bucket' pendants, a scalpel-like knife and amulet bag – all of which may point to the burial of a woman associated with ritual. The link between women and drinking rituals is to be more fully explored. 'Where have all the dead Saxons gone?' by Catherine Hills (55-9) observes the extent of AS funerary information, sites excavated but not published, and the varying standard of some of the publications. 'Invisible people? material culture in "Dark Age" Yorkshire' by Mark Whyman (61-8) considers the extent of material culture representing circa fifth-seventh-century Yorkshire, and the problems with loaded terms such as 'Dark Ages'. 'A sense of identity: distinctive Cornish stone artefacts in the Roman and post-Roman periods' by Henrietta Quinnell (69-78) examines artefacts typical of Dumnonia reflecting the adaptation of Roman types and techniques (see also 94/1440); there is a 'Gazetteer' (77-8). 'A "vital" Yorkshire Viking hoard revisited' by -James GrahamCampbell (79-84) concerns the Bossall/Flaxton hoard, deposited circa early tenth century, re-discovered in 1807, and consisting of a 'leaden box' containing coins and bullion, including an annular arm-ring. 'The Saxon monastery at Whitby: past, present, future' by Mark Johnson (85-9) documents the 1920s excavations, as well as recent work and the problems of reinterpretation for the remains of this monastery founded in AD 657, destroyed in 867, and refounded as a Benedictine house in the 1070s.The medieval period is dealt with in 'The role of the church in the development of Roman and early Anglo-Saxon London' by Warwick Rodwell (91-9) which provides an overview of Christianisation in Constantinian London, covering proprietary churches, congregational basilcae, temple conversions, forum churches, Roman cemeteries and cemetery structures, and the Middle-Saxon church within the city walls. 'Lichfield – ecclesiastical origins' by Jim Gould (101-4) describes the origin and development of Lichfield as a Christian site. Documentary references in Bede (Ecclesiastial history of the English people, 731) and Eddius Stephanus' Life of Bishop Wilfrid (c 709) point to pre-Conquest, indeed pre-669 origins for a church. There is also discussion of the shift in focus from nearby Letocetum in the RB period to Lichfield in the early medieval. 'The cult of St David in the Middle Ages' by Heather James (105-12) considers the area surrounding St Davids (Dyfed) as one developed by and for a medieval cult. 'Monasteries as settlements: religion, society, and economy, AD 600-1050' by Roberta Gilchrist & Richard Morris (113-18) covers gender, kinship and social networks, population, landholding and resources, slavery, chastity, and the 'monastic market'. 'The medieval precinct of Glastonbury Abbey – some new evidence' by Peter Leach & Peter Ellis (119-24) reports an evaluation in advance of development between High Street and Silver Street, covering part of the precinct and indicating a boundary alteration in the late medieval period. 'Perceiving patronage in the archaeological record: Bordesley Abbey' by Grenville G Astill & Susan M Wright (125-37) considers the potential physical manifestations of patronage, using the twelfth-century Bordesley Cistercian abbey as a case study. Structural change and burial, along with other evidence including decorated floor-tile, is cited. 'The development of the Carthusian order in Europe and Britain: a preliminary survey' by Mick Aston (139-51) chronicles the origin and formalisation of the order on the eleventh and twelfth-centuries, their characteristics (essentially eremitical), development and expansion, urban sites, Carthusian nuns, and present day Chapterhouses. Three phases of development are chronicled, with the thirteenth-seventeenth-century phase two witnessing the greatest number of foundations. Future areas of work are outlined. 'The Premonstratensian order: a preliminary survey of its growth and distribution' by James Bond (153-85) details sources, origins and organisation of this order, from its circa twelfth-century foundation by St Norbert. The great expansion of 1125-49 and gradual growth to the zenith of 1225-49 are chronicled, including information on the first to third orders, and Premonstratensian nuns. Late medieval foundations and the general impact of Premonstratensianism are also explored.The final chronological section concerns modern data, beginning with 'Death and identity: strategies in body disposal and memorial at North Front cemetery, Gibraltar' by Harold Mytum (187-92) puts forward a study of mortuary practice on the British dependency of Gibraltar based on the nineteenth-century to present day cemetery. A tradition of inhumation in a restricted area has lead to the development of re-usable vaults which owe something to the Spanish tradition, ultimately forming an individual funerary culture. '18th and 19th century gravestones: having the last word' by Patricia M Ellison (193-201) uses recent studies of this resource in York, and in Mottram (Longdendale). Chronological distribution, family groupings, population movement, and patterns of mortality, causes of death, and occupation/social class are covered. There follow papers concerning contemporary studies in America, South Africa, and Australia. Finally, 'Philip Rahtz: an appreciation' by Lawrence Butler (226-8) provides an career overview and tribute to the recipient of the festschrift. There follows a bibliography entitled 'Philip Rahtz – principal publications 1951-1992' compiled by Lorna Watts (229-34). IH
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