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Charnel practices in medieval England: new perspectives

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Published copy (DOI)

Author(s)

  • Dawn Hadley
  • E Craig-Atkins
  • Paul Barnwell
  • Jenny Crangle
  • Allan Adams (Illustrator)
  • Ian Atkins (Illustrator)
  • Jessica-Rose McGinn
  • Alice James

Department/unit(s)

Publication details

JournalMortality
DateAccepted/In press - 18 Feb 2019
DateE-pub ahead of print - 15 May 2019
DatePublished (current) - 2019
Issue number2
Volume24
Number of pages22
Pages (from-to)145-166
Early online date15/05/19
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

Studies of English medieval funerary practice have paid limited attention to the curation of human remains in charnel houses. Yet analysis of architectural, archaeological and documentary evidence, including antiquarian accounts, suggests that charnelling was more widespread in medieval England than has hitherto been appreciated, with many charnel chapels dismantled at the sixteenth-century Reformation. The survival of a charnel house and its human remains at Rothwell, Northamptonshire permits a unique opportunity to analyse charnel practice at a medieval parish church. Employing architectural, geophysical, and osteological analysis, we present a new contextualisation of medieval charnelling. We argue that the charnel house at Rothwell, a subterranean room constructed during the thirteenth century, may have been a particularly sophisticated example of an experiment born out of beliefs surrounding Purgatory.

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© 2019 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. This is an author-produced version of the published paper. Uploaded in accordance with the publisher’s self-archiving policy. Further copying may not be permitted; contact the publisher for details.

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