Worked in Stone: Completing the Corpus of Anglo-Saxon Stone Sculpture

Lead Research Organisation: Durham University
Department Name: Archaeology

Abstract

The stone sculptures which survive in our churches, churchyards or by the wayside in England, are a powerful and eloquent legacy. They are often the earliest evidence for Anglo-Saxon settlement at a site, and usually the first evidence for the acceptance by the people of Christianity. They throw light on the contacts between peoples and places, help to identify the influential centres in a region, and reflect the aspirations of their patrons, as well as the skills of their carvers. Sculptures thus represent a locally accessible historic resource that lies within the immediate reach of thousands of urban and rural communities, yet many remain unaware of their presence or significance.
In this final phase of the project, by bringing together a formidable team of archaeological, art historical and historical experts, we can pose major questions relevant to the regions under study and the Corpus as a whole. WiST will bring to completion the long-running study of every fragment of Anglo-Saxon stone sculpture in England. Since 1976, the project has brought to press 13 volumes, providing detailed, consistent coverage of 3500+ individual sculptures from 32 English counties, with information on location, discovery, stone type, condition, monument attributes and date. Combining established Corpus expertise with knowledge and skills from four separate institutions (Canterbury, Durham, Leicester, York), we will complete the remaining volumes and with them, c. 800 additional entries for the sculptures of Leicestershire, Northamptonshire, Rutland (XIV); Huntingdonshire, Cambridgeshire (XV), Norfolk, Suffolk (XVI).
Using this as a basis, we will investigate the entire production process within and across regions, from quarrying, to transport and display. More research is needed on production, chronology, on the intended visual and aesthetic impacts of iconographic and decorative schemas and whether regional or patronal tastes influenced certain styles and forms of monument. Choices were made to deploy monuments and to decorate buildings; by considering the likely original settings of sculptures, we can better understand the intentions of sculptor and patron and the ways sculptural media operated for varied audiences. Finally regional variations in form/decoration demonstrate that sculpture was used to signal different affiliations and allegiances.
We will explore these questions in the Corpus volumes and, via a workshop series involving academic, early career and non-academic stakeholders, develop a collaborative volume - Worked in Stone - a first in-depth interrogation of the national data set. An international conference and edited volume will also open up discussion to Europe, the USA and beyond, stimulating cross-regional comparison and trans-national debate and setting a future agenda.
Raising awareness of this resource with new beneficiaries is a vital part of our work. To this end, using expert computing support, we will release our full catalogue and make our data freely available worldwide, detailing some 4000+ sculptures and 9000+ associated images, as well as new state of the art 3-D models. To date c. 3700 online users a year access our data, with c. 67% of users coming from the UK and 16% from the USA and Japan. By developing our online presence and resources, we will broaden and deepen this user base. We will enable searches across the entire corpus, allowing all users to map and investigate individual sculptures; promote our free resources worldwide with social media; and provide short online guides to ease public access. We will also share our data with UK regional heritage agencies, ensuring anyone anywhere in England can access information on sculpture/s in their locality. Together with the Archaeology Data Service, we will secure our digital resources for the future, ensuring they remain widely accessible to academic, non-academic and commercial users in the long-term.

Planned Impact

Our research is of demonstrable interest to a wide range of beneficiaries/users:
(a) Amateur historians, archaeologists and enthusiasts make use of the published and online catalogues for their own research and interest. In 2016-17, we logged c. 3742 individual users on our website, viewing a total of 60992 pages. 67% of our users were UK-based and 16% were from the USA and Japan. As a consequence, we field 100s of requests for information on local discoveries and existing items and have liaised with c. 22 local groups/organisations since 2011, assisting in the re-display of items in their care e.g. Gainford, Co Durham; Bromborough, Cheshire. The flow of information is in both directions: amateur archaeologists/ historians can learn from the online Corpus, but they can (and do) contribute with updates and details about monuments of interest to them.
(b) Curators who care for these items - in a professional capacity in museum collections, or via their jurisdiction over a particular place - frequently use our expertise, our published/online resources and photographic archive. Since 2011, we have worked with the Church of England and with local vicars/parishioners to help identify items and provide detail for guides (e.g. Masham, Yorks; Monkwearmouth, Co Durham; Kirkby Stephen, Yorks). Likewise, we liaise with regional and national museums to improve information on the sculptures in their care (e.g. British Museum; Durham Cathedral).
(c) Regional Historic Environment Records hold comprehensive data on archaeological sites, monuments and discoveries in England. Sculptural fragments have often been included at the outset, but we share our data with these organisations at the completion of each volume, ensuring that these online resources contain the most up-to-date information on sculptural survivals.
(d) Police interest in sculpture is an unfortunate result of an increasing frequency in the theft of small portable items. We hold detailed information on every recorded item of sculpture and multiple photographic images. This has assisted in the confirmation of thefts, most recently at Hovingham, Yorkshire.
(e) Talks to local societies are regularly delivered by members of the team and these often stimulate public interest and involvement, prompting additional questions and requests for data and images.
We will enhance our impact by:
(i) Improving the usability and profile of our project and online resources with: improved search/mapping functions; short on-line guides for better public use; links to local societies, parishes, churches, museums, and in-person talks; and access to new 3-D photogrammetric models. We will promote our site/resources via social media (Facebook/Twitter/Flickr), introduce a blog and circulate a twice-yearly newsletter. We will create a dbase of relevant organisations/users, ensuring they are regularly updated. As a result we will continue to collaborate on demand with local to international requests for assistance with guides, displays and exhibitions e.g. in 2018 Story will advise on a major exhibition involving sculpture at the British Museum.
(ii) We will release remaining data and images, providing free worldwide access to information on over 4000 sculptures from c. 1300 sites, accompanied by c. 9000 associated images. Together with the Archaeology Data Service we will secure this online resource in the long-term for academic and public audiences.
(iii) We will share data with regional Historic Environment Records, and track usage by the commercial archaeology sector.
(iv) By inviting non-academic representatives to our workshops e.g. HERs, museums, Heritage Crime Officers/regional police, we will create new partnerships, enhance the use of our resources, and awareness of the vulnerability of sculptural items and advise on better care and protection.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Description We have developed a series of 3-D photogrammetric models of selected items of Anglo-Saxon sculpture. So far 7 have been produced, largely from the Soke of Peterborough, Leicestershire. These will shortly be published with Direct Object Identifiers and published on our website.
Exploitation Route They will be publically and freely accessible and usable allowing the public to access these sculptures worldwide. They are also research tools allowing users to view these sculptures at high resolution
Sectors Education,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections

URL http://www.ascorpus.ac.uk/
 
Description Our website which makes available 9 volumes in the series along with catalogues of material and thousands of images all recorded in a consistent format is a frequently accessed and used resource. In 2018 we have had over 60 individual queries requesting further information on items, our images for use in research and assistance with identifying new finds.
First Year Of Impact 2018
Sector Education,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections
Impact Types Cultural

 
Title Deerhurst font and relief 
Description 3-D Photogrammetric model 
Type Of Material Computer model/algorithm 
Year Produced 2018 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact Not yet 
 
Title Headda Stone 
Description 3-D Photogrammetric model 
Type Of Material Computer model/algorithm 
Year Produced 2018 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact Not yet 
 
Title Peterborough Cathedral Ansate Slab 
Description 3-D Photogrammetric model high res 
Type Of Material Computer model/algorithm 
Year Produced 2018 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact Not yet 
 
Title Peterborough Cathedral Cross 
Description 3-D Photogrammetric model 
Type Of Material Computer model/algorithm 
Year Produced 2018 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact Not yet 
 
Title Peterborough Cathedral Slab-1 
Description This is a 3-D photogrammetric model of an Anglo-Saxon grave slab from Peterborough Cathedral 
Type Of Material Computer model/algorithm 
Year Produced 2018 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact Not yet 
 
Title Rothley cross 
Description 3-D Photogrammetric model 
Type Of Material Computer model/algorithm 
Year Produced 2018 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact Not yet 
 
Title Rothley cross 
Description 3-D Photogrammetric model 
Type Of Material Computer model/algorithm 
Year Produced 2018 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact Not yet