Fragments of history

Rethinking the Ruthwell and Bewcastle monuments

By Fred Orton, Ian Wood and Clare Lees

Fragments of history

Book Information

  • Format: Paperback
  • ISBN: 978-0-7190-7257-4
  • Pages: 296
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £18.99
  • Published Date: July 2007
  • BIC Category: History, Archaeology, Literature, Literary studies: ancient & classical, European history: medieval period, middle ages, HISTORY / Social History, HISTORY / Medieval, Literature & literary studies / Literary studies: classical, early & medieval, Humanities / Social & cultural history, Medieval History


Fragments of history: Rethinking the Ruthwell and Bewcastle monuments is an innovative study of the two premier survivals of pre-Viking Anglo-Saxon stone sculpture. Both monuments are rich in finely carved images and complex inscriptions. Though in some way related, in this book, they have very different histories.

This ambitious study draws the reader in through a vivid exposition of the problems left by earlier interpretations, shows him or her how to understand the monuments as social products in relation to a history of which our knowledge is so fragmentary, and concludes with a deeply persuasive discussion of their underlying premises. Orton, Wood and Lees bring their research in art history and antiquarianism, history and archaeology, medieval literature, philosophy and gender studies into a successful and coherent whole, organised around certain key notions, such as place, history and tradition, style, similarity and difference, time, textuality and identity.

Theoretically astute, rigorously researched, vivid and readable, Fragments of history is a model of how interdisciplinary research can be conducted, written and published. It will be required reading in a number of disciplines, including art history, Anglo-Saxon studies, medieval language and literature, history and ecclesiastical history, antiquarianism and archaeology.


1. A sense of place
2. Fragments: history and tradition
3. Style, and seeing ... as
4. Forms of difference
5. Fragments of Northumbria
6. Reckoning time
7. The Ruthwell Runes and The Dream of the Rood
8. The Northumbrian Cross: evidence and silence
Spiritual things/material things


Fred Orton is Professor of Art History and Theory at the University of Leeds. Ian Wood is Professor of Early Medieval History at the University of Leeds. Clare Lees is Professor of English at King's College, University of London

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