Trees in the religions of early medieval England

Bintley, M. (2015) Trees in the religions of early medieval England. Martlesham: Boydell Press. ISBN 9781843839897.

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Abstract

Trees were of fundamental importance in Anglo-Saxon material culture - but they were also a powerful presence in Anglo-Saxon religion before and after the introduction of Christianity. This book shows that they remained prominent in early English Christianity, and indeed that they may have played a crucial role in mediating the transition between ancient beliefs and the new faith. It argues that certain characteristics of sacred trees in England can be determined from insular contexts alone, independent of comparative evidence from culturally related peoples. This nevertheless suggests the existence of traditions comparable to those found in Scandinavia and Germany. Tree symbolism helped early English Christians to understand how the beliefs of their ancestors about trees, posts, and pillars paralleled the appearance of similar objects in the Old Testament. In this way, the religious symbols of their forebears were aligned with precursors to the cross in Scripture. Literary evidence from England and Scandinavia similarly indicates a shared tradition of associations between the bodies of humans, trees, and other plant-life. Though potentially ancient, these ideas flourished amongst the abundance of vegetative symbolism found in the Christian tradition.

Item Type: Book
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BL Religion > BL0425 Religious doctrines (General) > BL0435 Nature worship
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BL Religion > BL0660 History and principles of religions > BL0689 European. Occidental > BL0830 Germanic and Norse
C Auxiliary Sciences of History > CC Archaeology
D History General and Old World > DA Great Britain > DA0020 England > DA0028 History > DA0129 By period > DA0130 Early and medieval to 1485
D History General and Old World > DL Northern Europe. Scandinavia
P Language and Literature > PD Germanic languages > PD1501 North Germanic. Scandinavian > PD2201 Old Norse. Old Icelandic and Old Norwegian
P Language and Literature > PE English > PE0101 Anglo-Saxon. Old English
Divisions: Faculty of Arts and Humanities > School of Humanities
Related URLs:
Depositing User: Dr Michael Bintley
Date Deposited: 17 Jul 2015 13:28
Last Modified: 17 Jul 2015 13:28
URI: https://create.canterbury.ac.uk/id/eprint/13575

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Last edited: 29/06/2016 12:23:00