• Law and Order in Medieval Chester 1066-1506: Evidence from Domesday Book, Chester City Courts and medieval texts

      Doran, John; Gaunt, Peter; Wilson, Katherine; Greatorex Roskilly, Vanessa J. (University of Chester, 2018-09-19)
      Medieval Chester has been stigmatised by post-medieval writers and academics as a militarised ‘Wild West’ town full of ruffians and criminals. This thesis investigates whether that reputation is justified. Three categories of evidence are systematically evaluated: the Domesday laws, the records of proceedings from Chester’s four medieval city courts – the Crownmote, the Portmote, the Pentice Court and the Passage Court – and references to Chester in medieval texts. Findings from the city’s Mayors’ and Sheriffs’ Books, the Cheshire Outlawry Rolls, Trailbaston proceedings and the Bishops’ Registers are also assessed. It is clear from these sources that, while the centuries wrought some changes and assault was not uncommon, throughout the Middle Ages the proportion of violent offences perpetrated by citizens of Chester was comprehensively dwarfed by the trading offences, property transactions and debts which formed the bulk of cases handled by the City Courts. The examination of medieval chronicles and other literary sources confirms that contemporary commentators did not view Chester as particularly lawless. Comparisons with the national state of law and order in medieval England strengthen the contention that Chester was no more criminal or militarised than any other medieval city.
    • Sculpture and Place: a biographical approach to recontextualising Cheshire’s early medieval stone sculpture

      Gondek, Meggen; Williams, Howard; Kirton, Joanne (University of Chester, 2016-02)
      Researching early medieval stone sculpture has long been enabled and constrained by approaches devised and subsequently honed over the last century focusing on form and ornamentation. These approaches largely prioritise the physical appearance of sculptural fragments, often distancing them from the physical and cognitive contexts in which they operated from their creation to the present. This thesis brings together popular strands of research from other areas of archaeology - landscape, biography, materiality and monumentality - to explore how early medieval stone sculpture operated in place and time, from their construction through processes of use and reuse. The study recognises that sculpture did not function independent of physical location or the socio-political context with which it was connected and that many sculptures have life-histories which can be charted through individual monuments, assemblages of sculpture, and regional patterns. Using a tenth-/eleventh-century assemblage from Cheshire, the biographies of the county’s early medieval monuments and architectural fragments are explored in relation to their physical location and the local historical frameworks with which they are connected. Through this original and distinctive approach, Cheshire's corpus of early medieval stone sculpture is both revisited and reinterpreted to emphasis the power of place and the biographies of stone sculpture.