Norwich Cathedral Archaeology

The Carnary chapelFrom 1993 to 2005, Professor Roberta Gilchrist was Archaeologist to Norwich Cathedral. Each cathedral has its own archaeologist appointed under an Act of Parliament (The Cathedrals Measure 1990), and the work is oriented towards conservation and stewardship. There is also opportunity to conduct original research and fieldwork and to become involved in new development projects.

Read more about Norwich Cathedral Developments

Cover of book: Norwich Cathedral Close

Norwich Cathedral Close

Roberta's research on Norwich Cathedral has focussed on the development of the landscape of the close. This project began as a Strategic Archaeological Assessment, funded by English Heritage Cathedrals Team, and was developed as a research project with funding of study leave from the Arts and Humanities Research Council. The resulting book, Norwich Cathedral Close: the Evolution of the English Cathedral Landscape  was published by Boydell and Brewer in November 2005 was selected as an Outstanding Academic Title by Choice USA.

Nos 32-4 in the Cathedral CloseThis comprehensive study outlined the development of Norwich cathedral close from its foundation in 1096 up to c. 1700. Multi-disciplinary evidence has combined to reconstru ct the landscape and buildings of the close, and transformations in their use and meaning over time. In contrast with previous approaches to cathedrals, the emphasis is placed here on the layout of the monastery, and the ways in which buildings and spaces were used and perceived by different social groups, including members of the cathedral community, their servants and visitors to the precinct. Roof boss showing a launderessPatterns observed at Norwich are placed in comparative context with other cathedral-priories and appropriate urban and rural sites, to draw out the development of the English cathedral landscape over six centuries. This long-term perspective encourages a more holistic approach to historical archaeology, uniting evidence from across the traditional medieval: post-medieval divide. In contrast with all other categories of medieval monastery, cathedral-priories weathered the Reformation, and offer unique potential to study continuity and change through the eruptions of the Reformation and beyond. This innovative study both outlines the development of the cathedral landscape, and uses Norwich in a contextual study of changing sacred and social space in a single institution.

Archaeological Recording of the North Transept and Spire

Roberta Gilchrist on the roof at Norwich CathedralRoberta directed the buildings archaeology connected with two major programme s of conservation to Norwich Cathedral.

These were published as:

Gilchrist, R. 1999. Norwich Cathedral: a biography of the north transept, Journal of the British Archaeological Association CLI (1998), 107-36.

Gilchrist, R. 2002. Norwich Cathedral tower and spire: recording and analysis of a cathedral's longue durée, The Archaeological Journal 158 (2001), 291-324.

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