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

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Abstract

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.

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