Standing on Holy Ground in the Middle Ages
Published by: Cornell University Press
504 pages, 178.00 x 254.00 mm, 4 b&w halftones, 76 color halftones, 4 b&w line drawings
- ISBN: 9781501751127
- Published: February 2022
Standing on Holy Ground in the Middle Ages illuminates how the floor surface shaped the ways in which people in medieval western Europe and beyond experienced sacred spaces.
The ground beneath our feet plays a crucial, yet often overlooked, role in our relationship with the environments we inhabit and the spaces with which we interact. By focusing on this surface as a point of encounter, Lucy Donkin positions it within a series of vertically stacked layers—the earth itself, permanent and temporary floor coverings, and the bodies of the living above ground and the dead beneath—providing new perspectives on how sacred space was defined and decorated, including the veneration of holy footprints, consecration ceremonies, and the demarcation of certain places for particular activities.
Using a wide array of visual and textual sources, Standing on Holy Ground in the Middle Ages also details ways in which interaction with this surface shaped people's identities, whether as individuals, office holders, or members of religious communities. Gestures such as trampling and prostration, the repeated employment of specific locations, and burial beneath particular people or actions used the surface to express likeness and difference. From pilgrimage sites in the Holy Land to cathedrals, abbeys, and local parish churches across the Latin West, Donkin frames the ground as a shared surface, both a feature of diverse, distant places and subject to a variety of uses over time—while also offering a model for understanding spatial relationships in other periods, regions, and contexts.
1. Holy Footprints
2. Church Consecration
3. Trampling Underfoot
4. Standing on Ceremony
5. Places of Prostration
6. Between the Living and the Dead