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CHAPTER 1 - ‘Introduction: On Faith, Objects and Locality’

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 April 2013

T. A. Heslop
Affiliation:
University of East Anglia
Elizabeth Mellings
Affiliation:
University of East Anglia
Margit Thøfner
Affiliation:
University of East Anglia
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Summary

East Anglia is a distinct region and has been considered so for over a millennium. This is how one tenth-century writer, Abbo of Fleury, saw it:

The above-mentioned eastern part attracts attention for the following and other reasons: that it is washed by waters on almost every side, girdled as it is on the south and east by the ocean, and on the north by an immense tract of marsh and fen … But on the side where the sun sets, the province is in contact with the rest of the island, and on that account accessible; but as a bar to constant invasion by an enemy, a foss is sunk in the earth by a mound equivalent to a wall of considerable height.

For Abbo, East Anglia was a peninsula, separate from yet also joined to the rest of England. Much later, in the 1980s, the author Malcolm Bradbury would unwittingly reiterate this when he quipped that East Anglia was cut off by the North Sea on three sides and British Rail on the fourth. Evidently, the region may be defined clearly and conveniently by its landscape, understood as a conjunction of the natural and the manmade.

For quite some time now, archaeologists, geographers, historians, art historians and other scholars have understood that landscapes are simultaneously geographical and cultural. That is certainly a sensible way of seeing the East Anglian landscape, where fishing, farming, peat digging, reed harvesting, land drainage, wharf building and a multitude of other human activities have been undertaken across many centuries.

Type
Chapter
Information
Art, Faith and Place in East Anglia
From Prehistory to the Present
, pp. 1 - 18
Publisher: Boydell & Brewer
Print publication year: 2012

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