Abstract and Keywords
In the later Middle Ages, the parish churches of England were populated not simply by parishioners and clergy, but by a community of images: paintings on the walls, depictions in stained glass, and sculptures carved in wood, alabaster, or metal. Lit by beeswax and tallow candles and adorned with gifts of rosaries, textiles, and votive offerings, they held the gaze of worshippers, forming a series of devotional foci within the parish church. In England, most of these images have disappeared, swept away by the reforms and iconoclasm of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. They survive as references in contemporary written sources, in decorative schemes exposed during nineteenth-century restoration works, and in museum and art gallery collections. This chapter considers the evidence and assesses the archaeological contribution to current understandings of imagery in medieval religion and belief.
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