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Scrolls & Serpents: The Arts of the Early Insular World - HOA00003M

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  • Department: History of Art
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. Caitlin Hutchison
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: M
  • Academic year of delivery: 2021-22

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching period
A Autumn Term 2021-22

Module aims

The art of the early Insular world (present-day Ireland and Britain) allows a vivid insight into the radical changes, economic, political and social, that marked the region between the 7th and 9th centuries. As a means of studying these issues, the course will concentrate on the applied and public arts of the Insular world, namely: metalwork, manuscripts, carved wood and ivory, as well as stone sculpture. Apart from consideration of the technologies of manufacture and motifs employed in the decoration of these various media, they will also be examined in terms of their iconographic significance, identity (regional and social), and patronage (both ecclesiastical and secular).

Module learning outcomes

  • an understanding of some of the issues involved in the cultural transmission of the visual languages current in the region;
  • an understanding of some of the complexities of imagery and meaning in early medieval religious art;
  • an awareness of the various scholarly approaches to the material and the factors informing them.


Task Length % of module mark
N/A 100

Special assessment rules



Task Length % of module mark
N/A 100

Module feedback

Feedback on summative assessment within 20 working days.

Indicative reading

  • Bede, A History of the English Church and People (Penguin Classics)
  • H.Mayr-Harting, The Coming of Christianity to Anglo-Saxon England (London, 1987)
  • J.Campbell (ed.), The Anglo-Saxons (London, 1982/1991)
  • J.Hawkes, The Golden Age of Northumbria (Newcastle upon Tyne, 1996)
  • D.M.Wilson, Anglo-Saxon Art from the Seventh Century (London, 1984)
  • L.Webster & J.Backhouse (eds), The Making of England: Anglo-Saxon art and culture AD 600-900 (London, 1991)
  • L. & M. De Paor, Early Christian Ireland (London, 1978)
  • S. Youngs (ed.), The Work of Angels (London, 1989)
  • J. Backhouse, The Lindisfarne Gospels (London, 1989)
  • B. Meehan, The Book of Durrow (Dublin, 1996)
  • B. Meehan, The Book of Kells: an illustrated introduction (London & N.Y., 1994)
  • R.N. Bailey, England's Earliest Sculptors (Toronto, 1996)
  • R.B. Stalley, Irish High Crosses (Dublin, 1991)

The information on this page is indicative of the module that is currently on offer. The University is constantly exploring ways to enhance and improve its degree programmes and therefore reserves the right to make variations to the content and method of delivery of modules, and to discontinue modules, if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Where appropriate, the University will notify and consult with affected students in advance about any changes that are required in line with the University's policy on the Approval of Modifications to Existing Taught Programmes of Study.