Text, monuments and land
DOI link for Text, monuments and land
Text, monuments and land book
This chapter is about text – documents and other media which support writing and inscriptions, like tablets, stone monuments and coins. The focus is on materiality, text itself, as opposed to the literal meaning of the words. The sense of the words is, of course, a part of its essence, but I am not especially concerned here about the information that can be gained from this. This may seem strange in a subject which uses documentary evidence so much in the reconstruction of past environments, and to be stretching understanding of the physical environment beyond its normal limits. But text can be understood as a medium of expression and in this respect is very relevant to the theme of this book. Moreover, the very existence of written records is bound up with how land relates to people. In the landscape, inscriptions were not just information – who lay in a grave, which governor was responsible for a gateway, how many lengths of sea defences had been constructed. Inscriptions, through their use in social mediation, brought information into being. Text as text was signiﬁcant. Likewise in the business of transacting land, writing held a key place in the making of charters. Yet these, even if not always used as records and consulted in disputes, involved signiﬁcant referencing from the level of individuals to that of entire social systems. People did not need to understand the writing but they had to know it meant something. And it was not just the texts themselves, but the act of writing or engraving, the materials used, the media of presentation, and just their very existence, whether in private or public – as a stone monument in a market place or behind the walls of a monastery – that allowed expressions of sociality and articulations with people’s lives.