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Planting new ideas: a feminist gaze on Medieval castles

Dempsey, K. (2021) Planting new ideas: a feminist gaze on Medieval castles. Chateau Gaillard: Études de castellologie médiévale, 29. pp. 85-98. ISSN 2491-844x

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This paper embraces the opportunity to discuss life at medieval castles outside of the traditional narrative of political power or status. Social approaches, especially gender, are far too rare in British castle-studies and largely absent in Ireland and France. What it was like as a person living in a castle, in other words - the lived experience - is underexplored. This is especially true of the daily life of women or those who existed on the margins of society. However, this cannot be remedied by ‘filling in the gaps’ of past narratives, we need to weave a new story, to form a rich tapestry of the past and the present that constructed it. We must integrate people, places and things within the same narrative. This paper is a first step against the discipline’s lack of enthusiasm to meaningfully engage with biographies, life cycles and social meaning of architecture and material culture. In this paper, (elite) female agency is explored in the context of the enclosed garden or the ‘hortus conclusus’, a space long-considered to be associated with women. The garden is a ‘contested space’ within castles studies where debates still concentrate on identifying ownership or control (i.e. male space and authority v female space and seclusion). This focus precludes conversations around who tended the garden, curated plants or participated in and organised the daily activities that may have occurred there. This study adopts a novel approach by integrating material culture, architecture, literature as well as ecological surveys and studies of relict medieval plants to create fuller picture of women and gardens at castles.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Science > School of Archaeology, Geography and Environmental Science > Social Archaeology
Science > School of Archaeology, Geography and Environmental Science > Department of Archaeology
ID Code:83139
Uncontrolled Keywords:Medieval Castles, Gender, Feminism, Material Culture
Publisher:Publications du CRAHAM


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