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Trees and Timber in the Anglo-Saxon World$
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Michael D. J. Bintley and Michael G. Shapland

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199680795

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199680795.001.0001

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Meanings of Timber and Stone in Anglo-Saxon Building Practice

Meanings of Timber and Stone in Anglo-Saxon Building Practice

(p.21) 2 Meanings of Timber and Stone in Anglo-Saxon Building Practice
Trees and Timber in the Anglo-Saxon World

Michael G. Shapland

Oxford University Press

Timber was the standard building material of the Anglo-Saxon world. There is remarkably little evidence for stone domestic structures prior to the Norman Conquest, even though their many surviving churches show the Anglo-Saxons to have been able and prolific masons. This association between stone, churches, and Christianity helps us to explore meanings of timber and stone in contemporary building practice. The Anglo-Saxon church was built in the manner of the Romans—in stone—frequently reusing spolia derived from Roman masonry. Stone was also perceived as the material of eternity, and increasingly of the dead, making it fit for use in churches, which were burial-places as well as symbols of heavenly permanence. In contrast, timber was the material of pre-Roman, pre-Christian society, and its transience and renewal made it fitting for the buildings of vernacular, agricultural life.

Keywords:   timber, stone, Rome, spolia, Christianity, buildings, churches, materiality

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