“The Narrative Is Ambiguous and That Location Isn’t the Right Location”: Presenting and Interpreting Medieval Saints Today in Canterbury, Durham and York

Tiina Sepp


Drawing on research for the Pilgrimage and England’s Cathedrals, Past and Present project, this article explores how the project’s medieval case study cathedrals – Canterbury, Durham and York – present their saints and shrines, and how visitors react to and interpret them. While looking at various narratives – predominantly about saints in historical and contemporary contexts – attached to these cathedrals, I also aim to offer some glimpses into how people interact with and relate to space. I argue that beliefs and narratives about saints play a significant role in the pilgrimage culture of the cathedral. I will also explore how the lack of a clear central narrative about the saint leaves a vacancy that will be filled with various other narratives.


saints; cathedrals; pilgrimage; Canterbury; Durham; York

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.2478/jef-2019-0005

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ISSN (print) 1736-6518. ISSN (online) 2228-0987. JEF is a joint publication of the University of Tartu, the Estonian National Museum and the Estonian Literary Museum.