Seeing and believing: visuality and space in pre-modern England

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Recently, archaeologists have become increasingly interested in the study of visual relationships within past landscapes and buildings. However, our approaches and techniques of visual analysis often apply modern ways of thinking about sight and space to the pre-modern past, thereby ignoring important debates in other disciplines about the historicity of these concepts. Using the case studies of two schemes of medieval wall paintings in Pickering church (North Yorkshire) and the Guild Chapel, Stratford-upon-Avon, England, this paper argues that archaeologists should engage more critically with this issue. Throughout, the idea of a 'palimpsest' is used, both as a metaphor for the physical layers of plaster which overlie medieval wall paintings and as an analogy for the process of archaeological interpretation itself.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)105-121
Number of pages17
JournalWorld Archaeology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2007


  • visuality
  • space
  • historicity
  • wall paintings
  • palimpsest
  • WALL

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