ABSTRACT

Despite the existence of many hermitages and eremitic communities recorded throughout the medieval period, they have, somewhat surprisingly, received little archaeological attention. Consequently, this book offers an archaeological history of hermitages and eremitic communities, with reference to key examples and case-studies. It has a particular emphasis on the British medieval period, but it also contextualises this within a wider comparative framework.

Many hermitages and eremitic communities are recorded throughout the medieval period, yet to date there has been no comprehensive archaeological study. This richly illustrated book will consequently discuss a range of hermitages and introduce the reader to their architectural forms, spaces, location and environments as well as the religious practices associated with them. It will focus primarily on the British material but will nonetheless consider this within a wider comparative framework. Overall, it will offer an archaeological history of hermitages and presents a unique window into a lost world of medieval spirituality and religious life. Key related themes will include the earliest archaeological evidence for hermits (eremitic life) in India, China and East Asia, pre- and early Christian desert hermitages, cave hermitages, eremitic communities, saints and missionary hermits, life and diet, medieval mysticism and the contemplative tradition, secular and ornamental hermitages and hermits in post-medieval and contemporary society.

This book offers an illustrated archaeological history of hermitages and eremitic communities, with reference to key examples and case-studies. It will therefore appeal to both academics, students and a more general readership interested in archaeology, history, comparative religion, architecture, religion and belief, spirituality, medieval Britain, modern contemplative practice and contemporary heritage issues.

PART I; 1. Introduction; 2. Early Hermits and Hermitages in India: an overview; 3. Early Hermits and Hermitages in China, Japan and Tibet: an overview; 4. The Desert Hermitage in Early Christianity; PART II; 5. Hermits and Hermitages in the Post-Roman and Early Medieval West: an overview; 6. Hermits and Hermitages in Early Medieval Ireland; 7. The Hermits and Hermitages of Early Medieval Britain; 8. Hermits and Hermitages in Early Medieval England; PART III; 9. The Religious Context of the Medieval Hermitage; 10. Hermitages and Hermits in Late Medieval England; 11. Institutional Hermits; 12. The ‘Afterlife’ of the Medieval Hermitage; 13. Conclusion