Thinking Wetly: Causeways and Communities in East Anglian Hagiography

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Water defined the landscapes of medieval East Anglia. Hitherto scholarly attention has focussed on the physical geography of the region, with landscape archaeology and excavations revealing sites of international importance and speaking to the potency and ubiquity of water as a ritual element. Surprisingly, however, very little attention has been paid to the symbolic importance of water in medieval East Anglian literature, and this article addresses this scholarly lacuna. Water features prominently in the literature from the region, particularly in the lives and legends of the numerous saints venerated at its many cult centres. This article begins by outlining some of the key ways in which water signifies in these contexts, before discussing a case study from the Liber Eliensis which, at first reading, seems to confound the received notion of water’s symbolic resonances but which, on closer consideration, reveals an additional, previously unidentified aspect of this most fluid of metaphors.


Original languageEnglish
JournalOpen Library of Humanities (OLH)
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 31 Jul 2018

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