Monastic and Church Archaeology

Posted: 23 Oct 2014

See all articles by Roberta Gilchrist

Roberta Gilchrist

University of Reading - Department of Archaeology

Date Written: October 2014


Major advances in church and monastic archaeology are discussed in terms of two distinct waves, ca. 1970–1995 and 1995 to the time of writing (2014). The first wave was influenced by landscape history and processual archaeology; scholarship focused principally on historical, economic, and technological questions and targeted individual sites and monuments for study. The second wave has been informed by postprocessual approaches and considers change and complexity in religious landscapes and perspectives on religious space, embodiment, and agency. In conclusion, this article calls for a more holistic approach to the archaeology of medieval Christian belief, one which moves beyond the focus on institutions and monuments that has characterized monastic and church archaeology and extends archaeological study to include the performative rituals of Christian life and death in the Middle Ages.

Suggested Citation

Gilchrist, Roberta, Monastic and Church Archaeology (October 2014). Annual Review of Anthropology, Vol. 43, pp. 235-250, 2014. Available at SSRN: or

Roberta Gilchrist (Contact Author)

University of Reading - Department of Archaeology ( email )

Reading, Berkshire, RG6 6AB
United Kingdom

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