Chapter

Inscriptions

Nigel Saul

in English Church Monuments in the Middle Ages

Published in print February 2009 | ISBN: 9780199215980
Published online May 2009 | e-ISBN: 9780191710001 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199215980.003.0014
 Inscriptions

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The chapter analyses the textual discourse on monuments — principally inscriptions and invocatory scrolls — for evidence of purpose, audience, and authorship. It argues that textual discourse was already a feature of grave markers in Northumbria as early as the 8th century, and that the content of the discourse increased in the late Middle Ages as literacy became more widespread. The twin purposes of text were to seek intercessory prayer for the deceased and to attest his or her status in life, the appeal for prayer usually being to the fore. Initially the audience was the priest but later, as burials spread across the church, appeal was made to the whole congregation of the faithful. Some of the longer inscriptions were composed by educated Churchmen; most, however, were formulaic.

Keywords: textual discourse; inscriptions; scrolls; literacy; prayer; appeal

Chapter.  15296 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of Religion

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