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Lichfield and the Lands of St Chad

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This thesis seeks to construct a history for the diocese of Lichfield during the early medieval period. The region is comparatively lacking in evidence, textual or archaeological, when compared to regions further east and south, and so provides a useful case study on which to test the applicability of narratives developed elsewhere. This study analyses what evidence there is from the region, textual (ninth-century episcopal lists, the Lichfield Chronicle, saints’ Lives), archaeological (ecclesiastical settlements, including Lichfield cathedral, and rural settlement) and topographical (distributions of settlement types, field systems and soils), and asks whether it can be interpreted with reference to two specific narratives: first, the ‘minster narrative’, in which a framework of minsters, established during the seventh and eighth centuries, provided pastoral care to the local population; and a territorial narrative based upon the ‘cultural province’, whereby a region defined topographically, usually along watersheds, persistently affected human activity within it, focussing it inwards. The study finds neither narrative entirely satisfactory: early minsters were clustered in the southern and eastern parts of the diocese, suggesting that episcopal agency was more important in ministering to the population than royal or noble minsters, which were founded for other reasons; and several different scales of territory are found to have been influential on the lives of those living in the region. A contextual interpretation is proposed, whereby nodes of habitual practice are identified throughout the landscape, by which people created and negotiated their identities at several different scales; a concept of ecclesiastical lordship is also recommended, by which the diocesan bishop’s relationships with other minsters in the diocese might be more fruitfully understood.


(2012). Lichfield and the Lands of St Chad


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