Session: #268

Theme & Session Format

6. Material culture studies and societies
Session format:
Regular session

Title & Content

At the Edge: Liminal Architecture During the Medieval Period or Liminal Architecture: resisting the stereotype
In looking at the development of medieval buildings within cultural systems, researchers often focus on those within urban contexts, those focused on centres of power, such as castles and monastic estates, and those which show development and connections across networks and regions. However, often communities and buildings removed from such areas do not appear to conform to the contemporary styles of the period. Some buildings may have been formed in timber rather than stone for example, and as a result, are no longer visible on the landscape. They appear to be ‘missing’.
But what drove this deviation from the perceived norm? Was it the need to use materials more readily accessible? Or, was it a form of resistance against external cultural, political and socio-economic influences and influencers? Why were certain buildings located in liminal areas and did they serve specific functions? Were there liminal spaces within buildings and, if so, why?
This session seeks to explore:
- Communities on the fringe, socially or territorially, and how their architecture reinforced their identify in the face of modernisation, invasion or suppression.
- How medieval communities adapted to external pressures? Did they incorporate new building forms, creating architectural hybrids?
- For those forced to relocate to marginal landscapes, is architecture used as a vehicle to reinforce their identify?
- How have our modern typologies created an artificial sense of ‘liminal’ or ‘other’? And would communities in question have also viewed themselves in this manner?
- Liminal spaces – use of spaces between buildings or space within buildings that is marginalised or avoided.
- Does a lack of evidence necessarily mean a lack of existence? If not, how can this be examined?
Medieval, Early-modern, Liminal, Architecture, Archaeology, Buildings
Session associated with MERC:
Session associated with CIfA:
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Main organiser:
Laura Patrick (United Kingdom) 1
Sarah Kerr (United Kingdom) 2
Duncan Berryman (United Kingdom) 1
Martin Huggon (United Kingdom) 3
Jeroen Bouwmeester (Netherlands) 4
1. Queen's University Belfast
2. Department of Archaeology, University of Sheffield
3. Bishop Grosseteste University
4. Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands