Saturday 22 April 2017

Third Annual LAMPS Edinburgh Conference: Death and the Supernatural - Extended Deadline

Call for Papers for the Late Antique and Medieval Postgraduate Society at the University of Edinburgh's annual conference.
We have extended the Call for Papers for this year's conference, which will be held on the subject of Death and the Supernatural on the 16th of June.
Early career scholars and postgraduate students are invited to submit abstracts of up to 200 words to​ by the extended deadline of ​Monday, 24 April, 2017.​

Sunday 26 March 2017

Third Annual LAMPS Edinburgh Conference: Death and the Supernatural

Call for Papers for the Late Antique and Medieval Postgraduate Society at the University of Edinburgh's annual conference.
This year the conference will be held on the 16th of June, on the subject of Death and the Supernatural.
Early career scholars and postgraduate students are invited to submit abstracts of up to 200 words to​ by ​Monday, 10 April, 2017.​

Saturday 25 February 2017

Opening the Doors to Heaven: Lion Head Doorknockers from the Treasury of Freckenhorst Church

Maria Gordusenko, PhD History of Art, University of Edinburgh

Figure 1. Church of St Bonifatius in Freckenhorst, Westphalia, Germany.

The Treasury of Freckenhorst Church in Westphalia (Germany) possesses two doorknockers cast in bronze. They were produced for the doors of the main portal of this Church at the end of the eleventh century (figure 1). Originally set at the church doors, the Freckenhorst doorknockers were not only handles with a merely practical function: their significance expanded far beyond. These doorknockers are made in a form of lion heads that hold ring-shaped handles in their teeth (figure 2). The handles are notable for an inscription mentioning a man by the name ‘Bernhardus.’ Its position at the doorknockers’ handles suggests that the maker wanted the faithful to notice the inscription and read it, think about their souls, pray for the said Bernhardus, and then enter the Church. This inscription resembles a pious petition[1]:


[‘May Jesus Christ the King of kings see to it (faciat) that the people who enter (literally entering) these doors to pray (for the sake of prayer) ascend to Heaven. Bernhardus made me.’] 

Figure 2. Lion Head Doorknocker, ca 1085. Treasury of Freckenhorst Church, Westphalia, Germany. Photo:  A. Legner, Der Artifex: K√ľnstler im Mittelalter und ihre Selbstdarstellung: eine illustrierte Anthologie (Cologne: Greven, 2009), p. 226, fig. 300.

The symbolic nature of lion head doorknockers is rooted in antiquity. The continuity of this motif can be traced from the fifth century BC up to the Christian Middle Ages. Christian artists adopted, rethought and enriched the images of lions and their symbolism. Since antiquity, lion’s masks with rings in their mouths were commonly used to decorate doorknockers or handles of chests. A lion was regarded as an embodiment of strength and as a symbol of the sun. That is why the manes of lions head doorknockers were often modelled to look like flames (Vermeule 1988, p. 127).

In various contexts, references to lions occur in the Bible. The lion, as the strongest of the beasts, was referred to as a positive symbol of power and royalty (Proverbs 30:30). Images of lions decorated the throne of Solomon (1 Kings 10:18-20). When depicted with a book of Gospels, the Lion is associated with the Evangelist St Mark. Sometimes it can even be regarded as an image of Christ. In the Revelation, the Lion of Judah (as the symbol of the Jewish tribe) is used as a direct reference to Christ (Revelation 5:5).

The doorknockers from Freckenhorst, just like other examples, symbolise Christ and deliverance from sins (Mende 1983, p. 151). In this respect, rings held by lions in their teeth can also be interpreted as important elements. In pagan Germanic cultures a ring was recognised as a symbol of an oath or law; knights took or reaffirmed oaths on rings (Bley 1990, pp. 190-191). Rings at the doors of ancient temples and Christian churches were symbols of asylum. For instance, a fugitive clasping a ring at the doors of a temple or a church would have been granted protection from his chasers. Metaphorically, Christ was seen by the faithful as a refuge, as one of the Psalms says: ‘The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, My God, my rock, in whom I take refuge’ (Psalm 18:2). In this respect, a doorknocker in a form of a lion head, holding a ring in its teeth would have been associated with Christ the lawgiver and formed a strong reference to church as an asylum for the faithful.

The conception of a church as an asylum, where the faithful can shelter from sin and the devil, is reflected at Hildesheim Cathedral on its bronze doors and in the Freckenhorst doorknockers. The Bernward Doors at Hildesheim have a representation of the Hand of God, which is paralleled to a master’s hand. It appears exactly at the level of the ring of the lion head doorknocker, and is shown as if it is going to clasp it claiming for an asylum inside the church (figure 3). This may convey the maker’s message that he repulses sinful life and wishes to stay in the church and to be saved by Christ. 

Figure 3.Bernward Doors, ca 1015. Fragment with the Hand and the Ring of the Doorknocker. Hildesheim Cathedral, Germany. Photo:
The position of Bernhardus’s inscription on the ring-shaped handles of the Freckenhorst doorknockers ensured that it followed their circular shape and allowed a parallel to be drawn between Bernhardus’s words and an oath. Being reaffirmed endlessly, like the shape of a circle, an oath would never be broken and Bernhardus’s petition will be reiterated permanently. But there is also another important aspect to Bernhradus’s doorknockers and inscription. It is related to the reception of bronze as a special material, which is able to animate images or make inscribed petitions sound and reach Christ in a sonorous form. For medieval minds, bronze was resonating, ever-changing composite material that possessed almost magical power; and some medieval treatises emphasise the significance of material qualities of bronze objects to resonate and sound (Weinryb 2016, pp. 98-99).

The distinct echoing sound of the Freckenhorst bronze doorknockers would literally signify Bernhardus’s name and his petition being pronounced. In other words, the text inscribed by the artist at the handles would acquire signification through sound. As a result, the person who used Bernhardus’s doorknockers and heard their sound would have recalled the maker and, supposedly, pray for him. But, most importantly, the sound of the doorknockers would be addressed directly to Christ, whom Bernhardus had mentioned in his inscription. Metaphorically, it may be equated to knocking on the doors of Paradise and asking for salvation.

The position of Bernhardus’s petition to the Saviour at doorknockers of church doors was not an accidental choice; in the medieval period church doors were assigned various symbolic meanings. A church was perceived as an asylum from sin, whereas liminal spaces, the entrance to a church and its doors, were commonly associated with the Gates of Heaven and with the Saviour (figure 4). As Christ said: ‘I am the gate. If anyone enters through Me, he will be saved’ (John 10:9). Similar to many other artists and bronze casters, Bernhardus meant his doorknockers and the inscription on them as a manifestation of his petition to Christ and believed that his work may open him the doors to life eternal (Frazer 1990, p. 273). 

Figure 4. Bernward Doors, ca1015. Fragment with the Hand and the Ring of the Doorknocker.  Hildesheim Cathedral, Germany. Photo:

Works Cited


Bley, H. ‘'Bernhardus me fecit': die romanischen Löwenkopf-Türzieher in Freckenhorst,’ Westfalen 68 (1990): 185. 
Frazer, M. ‘Church Doors and the Gates of Paradise Reopened,’ in Le porte di bronzo dall’antichita al secolo XIII, ed. S. Salomi, 271-279, (Rome: Istituto della Enciclopedia italiana, 1990), 273.  
Mende, U. (1983). Die Bronzetüren des Mittelalters, 800-1200. Munich: Hirmer.
Vermeule, C. (1988). Sculpture in Stone and Bronze: Additions to the Collections of Greek, Etruscan, and Roman Art, 1971-1988, in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Boston: The Museum.
Weinryb, I. (2016). The Bronze Object in the Middle Ages. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

[1] I am grateful to Dr Patricia Brignall for her advice on the translation of this inscription.

Sunday 8 January 2017

Spring 2017 Schedule

Late Antique and Medieval Postgraduate Society
Spring 2017 Schedule

Our weekly seminars showcase the Work in Progress of postgraduate students of all disciplines working within the Late Antique and Medieval periods. Papers are twenty minutes long, followed by ten to fifteen minutes of questions. We then head to Ushers for a pint to continue the discussion! This term our seminars will take place in 50 George Square, Room G.01 at 6:15pm and will be on the theme of Transcendence.
Monday, Jan 16th
LAMPS Pub Night at Ushers
Monday, Jan 23rd
Audrey Scardina, PhD  Archaeology, University of Edinburgh
Heritage in the Digital Age: Analyzing the success of the prototype tablet guides at the Auchindrain Township Museum  

Six miles south of Inveraray on the road towards Lochgilphead is the Auchindrain Township Museum. The sign on the main road declares in green, 'Welcome to Auchindrain: Please drive carefully', which may cause visitors to wonder if this is indeed a working village. What they have actually stumbled upon is the standing remains of the last Township in Scotland. This unique outdoor museum and heritage site provides a number of challenges, one of which is: if the aim is to show the site as it was left, how do you provide guests with information?
It was through asking himself this question that Bob Clark, the current museum director, decided to look into the prospect of tablet guides. Through funding received from Museum Galleries Scotland, Bob, along with software company Samteq, were able to begin the process of developing the tablet guides in 2015. In November 2015 I applied for a Scottish Graduate School of Arts and Humanities (SGSAH) internship at Auchindrain. My idea for a project was to go through the process of assessing the success of the digital guides in their first summer, and to provide an analysis of those results.
This paper will focus on the process of designing and implementing my survey, the short-term analysis of the results as they came in, and the final conclusions presented in my report to The Auchindrain Trust in December 2016. I will start by explaining the initial plan for the survey, including the way it changed over the project and the specific problems that came up. From there I will discuss the process of interviewing visitors, the kind of individual responses I would get, and then how I fed these back to Bob and Samteq. Finally I will go over the total results, including my suggestions to Auchindrain about changes in content, tech, and future projects.

Monday, Jan 30th
Alasdair Grant, PhD History, University of Edinburgh
Ab extremis terris usque ad extremum terrae: A Pseudo-Prophet of the East in an Anglo-Latin Manuscript, AD 1335

Between the 1220s-1370s, Latin Christian missionaries exploited the communication routes of the vast Mongol Empire to establish new contacts with Christian communities as far away as China and South Asia. These contacts generated a wide range of texts, from the descriptive to the fantastical. Although many of the major Franciscan narrative accounts of Asia were published in translation a century or more ago, a number of related texts have gone entirely unnoticed. One of these is the remarkable apocalyptic letter of BL MS Royal 12 C xii, ff. 13-14. Bound with a selection of prophecies pertaining to Edward II of England, this text appears to be a unique testimony of an otherwise unknown event: the appearance in summer 1335 of a messianic ascetic, bearing new scripture, riding a golden chariot, and accompanied by an armed following. It is an extraordinary case of English apocalyptic thought transcending its original context to absorb current stories of migration and cross-cultural integration in Asia.

This paper will present the text and an English translation. It will discuss its contents in relation to important contemporary parallels, such as the fictitious letters of ‘Prester John’, as well as the correspondence of Catholic missionaries (e.g. John of Montecorvino) in the Mongol world. It will suggest that the episode described by the letter is a garbled misunderstanding, in terms familiar to a Latin Catholic Christian, of Buddhism in the Mongol world, conflated with the mythology of Prester John and influenced by earlier accounts of the Mongols’ violent invasions.

Monday, Feb 6th
Maria Gordusenko, PhD History of Art, University of Edinburgh
Opening Doors to Heaven: Lion Head Doorknockers from the Treasury of Freckenhorst Collegiate Church

The Treasury of the Collegiate Church in Freckenhorst possesses two doorknockers cast in bronze. They depict enclosed in a circular shape lion’s face with stylised mane and wide-opened eyes. The two doorknockers were produced for two-wing church doors. In its teeth, each lion at the doorknockers holds a ring-shaped handle with an inscription. It is a petition for the salvation of souls of the faithful followed by a signature BERNHARDVS ME FECIT. In the inscription the author visualised people entering the Church through the doors for a prayer and asked God so that they ascend to Heaven. The entrance to the Church was perceived as a liminal space and, metaphorically, church doors were associated with the Gates of Heaven. The image of a lion decorating the doors has numerous symbolical connotations, which in a combination with an inscription adds to the semantic value of the doorknockers.

Over the years, Freckenhorst doorknockers with a signature of Bernhardus were transferred from door to door several times, but nevertheless were taken care of and always remained affiliated with the same Collegiate Church. What was the difference in the perception of the doorknockers by their contemporaries and further generations? Did the votive inscription that mentions Bernhardus increase appreciation of these utilitarian pieces? This paper presents an enquiry regarding the doorknockers in the context of the history of the Church in Freckenhorst and analyses the inscription in relation to the objects.

Monday, Feb 13th
Meghan MacKenzie, MSc European Archaeology, University of Edinburgh
Bernard of Clairvaux and the Struggle Against the Enemy

In 1146, Bernard of Clairvaux, one of the most well-known leaders of the Cistercian
Order of monks, called for an attack against the “infidels” of the east who controlled Jerusalem and self-appointed himself leader of the Second Crusade. Bernard’s decision to become so involved in the Crusade was remarkably odd because of his monastic order’s principles. The Order was based on the belief that monks needed to remove themselves completely from what they saw as a corrupt and sinful secular world by living in self-sufficient communities and eschewing outside issues.

Scholars have attempted to explain this contradiction in Bernard’s life. William of St. Thierry, Bernard’s contemporary, blamed the Pope for Bernard’s role in the Crusade. Some scholars see the internal conflicts of the Order as a reason Bernard decided to focus on issues outside of the monastery. Or perhaps it was simply his personality; was he just another power-hungry authoritarian figure?

I propose that a long overlooked but crucial influence on Bernard’s decision to partake in the Crusades was the writings of the Desert Fathers from early Christianity. Like the Cistercians would centuries later, the Desert Fathers sought a closer spiritual connection to God by separating themselves from society. Their writings emphasize how important constant, violent battles against God’s enemies (even when living alone in the Egyptian desert) are to any good Christian’s life. Their writings thus illustrate how connected the search for spiritual transcendence and worldly warfare can be, as Bernard of Clairvaux’s actions would perfectly exemplify centuries later.

Monday, Feb 27th
Vaughn Sturdevan Feuer, MSc Medieval Literatures and Cultures, University of Edinburgh
Death in the Medieval Mind: Medieval Scottish Interpretations of Death in William Dunbar’s Poetry

In the late 15th century, new trends amongst Scottish poets emerged that would contribute directly to the development of the Northern Renaissance. These Makar poets developed Scottish poetry from its highly rigid earlier forms, as used by Barbour and Wyntoun, into a more fluid form marked by more variety of form and content. Amongst the Makar poets, William Dunbar is notable for the sheer variety in the pieces that he wrote, and the personal tone with which these pieces were composed.

Scholars have long praised Dunbar’s use of various subjects, meters, and moods. Throughout the variety of his work, a reoccurring theme is that of the inevitability of death. This is most present in his poem “I that in Heill wes and Gladnes”, also known as “The Lament of the Makars”, where he deals with the spectre of death and its relation to medieval society and his fellow poets. 

Scholarship regarding this poem has long focused simply on the historicity and curiosity of the list of poets that Dunbar provides in the second part of the poem. Little has been said in regards to how this poem reflects the attitude of the poet, or of society at the time, surrounding death. I propose that a closer reading of the poem in its entirety, with a special attention paid to the relentless refrain “Timor mortis conturbat me”, exposes the poet’s stanzas regarding death as something uniquely personal, though buried in the very public lament for his fellow poets.

Monday, Mar 6th
Megan Hynek, MSc Late Antique and Byzantine Studies, University of Edinburgh
Confrontation, Creation, and Commemoration: The Synagogue Floor Mosaics at Horvat Huqoq.

Abstract Pending

Monday, Mar 13th
Round Table and AGM

Monday, Mar 20th
Claire Harrill, PhD English Literature, University of Birmingham
St. Margaret at Dunfermline Abbey

Abstract Pending

Monday, Mar 27th
Stephenie McGucken, PhD History of Art, University of Edinburgh
Transcending the Body/Soul: Female Personifications in the Anglo-Saxon Psychomachia Manuscripts

The popularity of Prudentius’ fourth-century poem Psychomachia in Late Anglo-Saxon England is witnessed by three extant illustrated copies of the poem, in addition to an individual folio from a fourth illustrated copy and several unillustrated copies of the text. While scholarship to date has focused on the poem and the gendering of certain vices, little has been done to compare the images across all of the illustrated copies in order to identify and explore key differences in figural representations.
This paper will consider the Late Anglo-Saxon illustrated texts in light of their place in the corpus of illustrated Anglo-Saxon manuscripts. Boasting more than double the corpus average of the percentage of female figures, the Psychomachia manuscripts are the only statistical outliers. Each series of illuminations is slightly different, with the number of figures differing subtly across seemingly identical programmes, suggesting multiple audiences with individual concerns. Through an examination of the differences between manuscripts, this paper will present a new look at the image cycles in an attempt to understand how the Psychomachia was received in Late Anglo-Saxon England, as well how the illustrations fit into a wider pictorial dialogue concerning the place of the woman in contemporary society.
Stephenie is a fourth-year PhD Candidate in the History of Art. Her dissertation (supervised by Heather Pulliam) deals with how the depiction of women in Late Anglo-Saxon manuscripts reflects contemporary society. Her research interests also include the use of heritage in Film & TV productions and the implications and reflections of art on the lived experience of women in the Insular world.
Monday, Apr 3rd
Becky Wrightson, PhD History of Art, University of Edinburgh
Pseudo-Kufic: Islamic art in medieval Europe

Abstract Pending

Monday, Apr 10th
Martin Carver, Society of Antiquaries of Scotland
Portmahomack on Tarbat Ness – Barometer of European politics
[Society of Antiquaries Event, 6-7pm in the Auditorium National Museum Scotland (use Lothian Street doors) - see]

Saturday, January 28th: Welcome Back Movie Night
7pm, Location TBD
Join LAMPS as we start off the new term with a movie night! We will be watching a medieval-themed movie together. Feel free to bring snacks for yourself (or to share!). Keep your eyes peeled for the movie we will be watching!  
Friday, February 17th: Medievalist Game Night
7pm, Location TBD
Following the movie night, we will have a medieval-themed games night! Bring along games and snacks for a night of competition.

Thursday, February 23rd: Festival of Creative Learning Trip
9:30am at Crichton Street
£11 including site entry and transportation  
Join us as we visit Rosslyn Chapel, Doune Castle, and Temple Kirk to explore interactions between popular culture and heritage! Please book at:
Saturday, March 11: LAMPS Ceilidh
7:15pm at Assembly Roxy
We will attend this Edinburgh Ceilidh Club ceilidh together, so join us for this classic Scottish pastime. Please wear appropriate footwear and be prepared for bruises!  
Sunday, March 19: Dunfermline Palace and Abbey
11:30am at Waverley Train Station
£6.50 for return train ticket, entry to the Palace and Abbey free with LAMPS
Dunfermline Palace and Abbey houses the remains of St. Margaret and Robert the Bruce. Join us on this trip to Dunfermline to tie in with Claire Harrill’s talk the day after.
Friday, March 31st: International Hug a Medievalist Day
12pm on Edinburgh Castle Esplanade
Celebrate International Hug a Medievalist Day with LAMPS by giving out free hugs and raising awareness of our field.
Saturday, April 8th: Inchcolm Trip
11am at Waverley Train Station
£4.60 for return train ticket, price of ferry TBA, entry to Inchcolm Abbey free with LAMPS
Join us as we cross the Firth of Forth to visit this beautiful Abbey on a little island. As well as a rich medieval history, this island boasts fortifications from both World Wars and some interesting wildlife!
Saturday, April 29th: Spring Castle Crawl
9:30am at Crichton Street
£25 for members, £28 for non-members
After the success of our Autumn Castle Crawl, on this trip we will visit Castle Campbell, Huntingtower Castle and Lochleven Castle. Three excellent castles to finish off the term!

Thursday 27 October 2016

Call for Papers - Spring 2017

Spring 2017 

The Late Antique and Medieval Postgraduate Society (LAMPS) invites postgraduate students to present their research at our weekly Monday seminars.

LAMPS aims to provide an engaging and informal forum for cross‐disciplinary discussion that focuses on the Late Antique and Medieval periods. We welcome proposals on the study of these time periods, as well as topics pertaining to the reception and perception of the Late Antique and Medieval periods from later sources. Postgraduate students from all disciplines and at any stage ​of their research are​ welcome to submit papers.

For the Spring 2017 semester, LAMPS requests that submissions explore the theme of ​Transcendence.​ Submissions can explore any idea relating to going beyond the ordinary, whether literal or metaphorical.

Possible paper topics include, but are certainly not limited to:

● Philosophical and theological ideas on transcendence in the medieval period
● The combining or refiguring of genre
● Exceeding expectations
● Pushing the limits of socially or culturally accepted norms
● Existing or acting outside of traditional gender norms/stereotypes
● Multipurpose functionality of spaces
● Cross-over of ethnic or ‘national’ identities
● The ways in which texts and/or objects can transcend their original purpose and context
● Social mobility

Presentations should be around 20 minutes in length and are accompanied by 10 to 15 minutes of discussion and questions. If you are interested in applying, please send a 250 word abstract along with your details and a brief introductory statement about yourself to​​ ​by November 27th, 2016​.

Lectures will take place on Mondays at 6:15pm between January 16th and March 27th 2017. Please also let us know about any potential scheduling conflicts!

Towards the Freedom of Self-Representation in the Twelfth Century: Liutprecht – the Sculptor from the Crypt of St Corbinian at Freising Cathedral

Maria Gordusenko, PhD History of Art, University of Edinburgh

The reconstruction of Freising Cathedral after a great fire in 1159 was completed only in 1205. It was an important step in proclaiming the city of Freising as a pilgrimage destination. The new enlarged Crypt was built by 1161, in a fairly short time span because of the necessity to accommodate the Sarcophagus and altar of St Corbinian.

The Crypt has reused old columns with simple capitals, and new columns with decorated capitals. Embellished with foliage and floral motifs, they create an atmosphere of a magical forest inhabited with various creatures, fantastic birds and griffins, and anthropomorphic characters. Taking into account the semi-darkness of the hall, with its flickering candlelight, it is possible to envisage what effect such decoration might have had on the medieval pilgrims descending into the Crypt.

Figure 1. The Crypt of St Corbinian, Freising Cathedral. Photo by Klaus Rommel.

The motifs of vine and transformation demonstrate the central idea of the sculptural programme in the Crypt of St Corbinian. It is an idea of a spiritual journey to God and salvation that Christians undertake by freeing themselves from sins and vice. Some capitals have figures of men entwined with floral stems, probably symbolising the sins restricting their freedom. This metaphorical idea of spiritual rebirth is reflected in a signed capital of a column in the Eastern part of the Crypt. The floral stems in it transform from bonds to gracefully curved vines; one of the two bearded men represented at the capital holds a bunch of grapes that indicate Eucharistic connotations. Placed directly above the representation of the second bearded man, the name LIVT / PRECHT is broken into two syllables by the angle of the abacus; it completely follows the structure of the capital. This makes a firm association with the figurative representation. The man’s individualised face and thoughtful expression stand out among all the fantastic creatures found on other carved capitals and allow suggesting that it may be an image of a sculptor or a donor.

Figure 2. The Capital signed: LIVT / PRECHT (detail). Ca 1159 – 1160. Crypt of St Corbinian, Freising Cathedral. Photo: Legner 2009, p. 293. 

The column with Liutprecht’s capital is located next to the most important object in the Crypt, the Sarcophagus of St Corbinian. When facing the Sarcophagus, the viewer would see the column to their right and exactly at an angle that would permit them to observe Liutprecht’s face and read the inscription of his name. Thus, Liutprecht has purposely selected a very specific audience that would have been able to see his name. It is what a praying priest or a pilgrim would notice while standing in front of the Sarcophagus and altar of St Corbinian. This guaranteed that Liutprecht will be remembered and that his devotion to St Corbinian will be expressed permanently, securing him a place in Heaven.

Figure 3. Bishop Prof Dr Reinhard Marx praying in front of the Sarcophagus of St Corbinian. Note the column with the capital signed LIVT/PRECHT. Freising Cathedral, Crypt of St Corbinian. Source 

On the contrary, people wondering in the Crypt would instead notice fragments of his name LIVT or PRECHT, depending upon the direction from which they approached the column. This attempt to humbly conceal his name from a wider audience shows that Liutprecht was concerned with religious values rather than gaining recognition among people. All these factors reveal complex spatial thinking, artistic intelligence, and spirituality of the sculptor.

Figure 4. The Capital signed: LIVT / PRECHT (detail). Ca 1159 – 1160. Crypt of St Corbinian, Freising Cathedral. Source.

The Christian male name Liutprecht can be interpreted as the light (brightness) of people, where liut stands for people and associates with the pilgrims visiting the Crypt, and precht, in Old German, means the bright and glorious (Steub 1870, p. 66; Yonge 1884, p. 430). In the darkness of the Crypt this would have had an even more special significance, as it interconnects with the symbolism of light associated with pious life and God.

The name Liutprecht is rarely cited in medieval documents from around the time when the works in the Crypt took place and Liutprecht’s capital was carved. However, the First Necrolog of Kremsm√ľnster Abbey (beginning of the 12th century - end of the 13th century) mentions a certain Liutprecht among those commemorated and honoured by the Abbey. He is listed as a conversi or lay bother, of the Benedictine Abbey of St Lambrecht at Styria, now Austria (Altinger 1897, pp. 22, 128). The manuscript also commemorates the bishops of Freising, and clergy and lay brothers from other Benedictine monasteries in the neighbouring areas. It indicates that there existed good connections between the Benedictine abbeys in this region.

The period covered by the Necrolog coincides with the time of restoration works in the Crypt of St Corbinian. Taking into account the rarity of the name Liutprecht, its presence in the manuscript and in the Crypt suggest that it actually might refer to the same person, who was active at that particular period and in that specific area. In addition, a long-standing tradition of communication and exchange between the Benedictine abbeys around Freising makes it is feasible that Liutprecht may have become engaged in works on Freising Cathedral. Being a conversi, and not a regular monk, Liutprecht had more possibilities to travel, was likely to be involved in manual labour, such as sculpting, and would have had more freedom in manifesting his authorship with a signature (Dohme 1877, p. 51).

It was quite common for conversi to be architects, masons, carpenters and sculptors (Hélyot and Bullot 1863, p. 462 ; Johnston 2000, p. 748). The lay brothers, or conversi, in the Benedictine Order were those who renounced the world in adult life (‘Lay Brothers’, The Catholic Encyclopedia). According to the rule for conversi, they had to dedicate themselves to hard manual labour, wear simple habits, and have beards (sometimes conversi were referred to as laici barbati). They were not allowed to have a tonsure, could not enjoy the privileges of regular monks, and were required to remain illiterate (Johnston 2000, p. 748). The latter might explain the simplicity of Liutprecht’s signature: as an illiterate conversi, he may have known how to write his name, but was evidently unable to compose long inscriptions in Latin.

The image of Liutprecht at the capital shows him as a mature bearded man. These details are vital and might indicate that it is indeed a representation of a conversi, or, at least, of a layman. Just like any conversi, he must have renounced the world and entered religious life as a mature man. The overall idea of sculptural decoration in the Crypt showing the conversion from a pagan (or a sinner) to a pious Christian, who aspires to salvation, may interconnect with Liutprecht’s personal life choices. This, however, did not restrict his freedom in travelling for work and producing self-representations.

Works Cited

Altinger, A. (1897). Die zwei ältesten Nekrologien von Kremsmünster. Wien: Gerold.
Dohme, R. (1877). Kunst und Künstler des Mittelalters und der Neuzeit: Biographien und Charakteristiken. Volume 1, Part 1. Leipzig: E.A. Seemann.
Hélyot, P. and Bullot, M. (1863). Dictionnaire des ordres religieux ou, Histoire des ordres monastiques, religieux et militaires, et des congrégations séculières. Paris: Chez l'éditeur.
Johnston, W. M. (2000). Encyclopedia of Monasticism. London: Fitzroy Dearborn.
‘Lay Brothers.’ The Catholic Encyclopedia. Accessed December 9, 2015.
Legner, A. (2009). Der Artifex. Cologne: Greven Verlag.
Steub, L. (1870). Die oberdeutschen Familiennamen. München: R. Oldenbourg.
Yonge, C. M. (1884). History of Christian Names. London : Macmillian.