Once I was a clever boy learning the arts of Oxford... is a quotation from the verses written by Bishop Richard Fleming (c.1385-1431) for his tomb in Lincoln Cathedral. Fleming, the founder of Lincoln College in Oxford, is the subject of my research for a D. Phil., and, like me, a son of the West Riding. I have remarked in the past that I have a deeply meaningful on-going relationship with a dead fifteenth century bishop... it was Fleming who, in effect, enabled me to come to Oxford and to learn its arts, and for that I am immensely grateful.

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Building the past

I read on the Medieval Religion discussion group an interesting piece from the international edition of Der Spiegel about a project, starting next year, to build a Carolingian monastery from scratch and only using the technology and usages of the time. The article is here.

The project is inspired by the famous early ninth century St Gall monastic plan, and about which there is a website here.

There is apparently a somewhat similar project building a castle in France, but it is not something we do very much in this country these days. Admittedly the other year I did see the local council reconstructing part of the motte of Oxford castle which had collapsed - due I think to the proximity of the modern road rather than the failings of eleventh century earthmovers.

On the other hand there are such spectacular rebuildings as Castell Goch near Cardiff by the Marguess of Bute in the late nineteenth century and, more applicable to the beginning of this thread, the rebuilding on its old foundations of the abbey at Buckfast by its community. There a small group of monks, not themselves trained stonemasons, built the church on traditional lines in about twenty years early in the twentieth century. This is a good instance not only of what can be done, but also of real;ising how it was done in past centuries.

As I write this I recall that at that time the Buckfast community were mainly German, exiles from the Kulturkampf, so, perhaps, regrettably, such things are not very English after all.

Meanwhile for anyone who wants to live for the next forty or so years as a monk in the age of Charlemagne and Louis the Pious - well, the prospects look quite good in contemporary Germany.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Brought to mind an amusing bit I read on Eriugena and Charles the Bald...