CeSMA ANNUAL LECTURE: Julia Smith (University of Oxford) on ‘Relics and the Insular World, c.600-800’

4-6pm, Wednesday 22nd March
Lecture Room 2, Arts Building, University of Birmingham B15 2TT

St Gallus with his relics slung on his staff-- Stiftsarchiv St.Gallen Urk. C1 A3 letter of indulgence 20 May 1333 (2).png

This paper re-evaluates the interest of insular Christian communities in the cult of relics in the pre-Viking age.  It has two main purposes, first to re-read familiar hagiographic texts in the light of the material culture of relic practices in the Mediterranean world and, second, to exploit newly discovered evidence to map insular relic activity all the way from the Holy Land to the Hebrides.  There emerges a nuanced picture of distinctive British, Irish and Anglo-Saxon relic habits together with new insights into the behaviour of early insular pilgrims.

Julia Smith is Chichele Professor of Medieval History at the University of Oxford. Her current research addresses the materiality of Christian experience in the Middle Ages, through the emergence and development of the cult of relics from the 4th to the 11th centuries. She has published extensively on the history of women and gender in the early Middle Ages, and is committed to the interdisciplinary and cross-cultural study of medieval history.

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