Pilgrimage and England's Cathedrals, past and present

Geoff Arnott, Patrick Gibbs, 2018

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Geoff Arnott, Patrick Gibbs (2018) Pilgrimage and England's Cathedrals, past and present [data-set]. York: Archaeology Data Service [distributor] https://doi.org/10.5284/1047223

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Pilgrimage and England's Cathedrals, past and present

'Pilgrimage and England's Cathedrals, past and present' was a three-year, interdisciplinary research project funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council. The project, led by Dr Dee Dyas, Director of The Centre for the Study of Christianity & Culture, University of York, compared the medieval experience of pilgrimage to cathedrals with the modern experience of visitors to such places. The project brought together the expertise and perspectives of religion specialists, anthropologists and ethnographers to study of the experience of modern cathedral visiting. The overarching aim was to compare past with present and investigate to what extent the experiences of the medieval visitors were similar or different from today, how the experience was shaped by expectation and cultural conditioning, and the role and significance of modern cathedral visitor management practices in shaping and defining that experience.

The research was focused on four case-study cathedrals: Canterbury, Durham, York and Westminster (as a Roman Catholic comparator). These were selected on the basis of having a medieval pilgrimage past with which to compare (excluding Westminster), but also as having a mixture of free and paid entry, saint's shrine still present or not and a reasonable geographical spread. The modern experience was captured through interviews, questionnaires and on-site observation. The historical research was conducted through archival and printed sources, as well as on-site investigation into cathedral fabric.

A key component of the project was the creation of a series of 3D visualised scenes that presented aspects of the project's research into medieval pilgrimage. These scenes focused upon the pilgrimage activity surrounding St Thomas Becket at Canterbury Cathedral in roughly 1408 AD, highlighting four distinct areas that served different purposes in regards to their role and significance to visiting pilgrims. The date chosen was partly due to the evidence available - largely due to contemporary documentation relating to the visit of the Countess of Kent in 1408. This archive comprises the raw geometry files that were developed during the production of these models.