Medieval Landscapes

April 10th, 2014 jessica

With an eye to National Landscape Architecture Month, I selected several works from the Architecture and Planning Library, which examine medieval landscapes and gardens.

Anne Jennings and Sylvia Landsberg provide introductions to medieval gardens and gardening. Their works are highly illustrated, relying on medieval manuscripts. Both authors also offer practical information or “How To’s” for the modern gardener interested in creating medieval inspired gardens of their own.

Anne Jennings. Medieval Gardens. London: English Heritage, 2004.

Sylvia Landsberg. The Medieval Garden. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2003.

My interests, however, lie not in the medieval garden but rather within the intentional construction of a larger landscape- those that extend beyond the castle or cloister walls. I am concerned with the site of building as it reflects a conscious choice to create relationships– to the built environment such as a castle to abbey, to natural features such as mountains and rivers, and to places of significance whether it be historical, familial, or political boundaries. I am interested in view points and issues of approach, of what can be seen or not seen. Castle Rising, Norfolk is an excellent example of a castle’s relationship to the surrounding landscape, as examined by Robert Liddiard. Other interesting expressions of these relationships can be found at the Sutton Hoo Burial or Knowlton Church and Earthworks.  Knowlton consists of a twelfth-century Norman church built at the center of a henge. For those interested in these types issues, you might find these works insightful:

Tadhg O’Keeffe. Ireland’s Round Towers: Buildings, Rituals and Landscapes of the Early Irish Church. Tempus: Stroud, 2004.

Oliver H. Creighton. Designs Upon the Land: Elite Landscapes of the Middle Ages. The Boydell Press: Woodbridge, 2009.

Robert Liddiard. Castles in Context: Power, Symbolism, and Landscape, 1066-1500. Macclesfield: Windgather Press, 2005. (PCL)

Richard Bradley. An Archaeology of Natural Places. New York: Routledge, 2000. (PCL)

Entry Filed under: special collections


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