Synaesthesia in Medieval Pilgrimage: The Case of St Neot’s shrine, Cornwall

charch_smallThis article examines research carried out over the summer of 2011 in an attempt to expose the visualist bias inherent in traditional studies of the art and architecture of medieval pilgrim churches and their visitors, and to establish an alternative sensory and social perspective on them: as synaesthetic experiences created for and by an array of visitors. As yet, studies have failed to consider how social, religious, and architectural developments – whether initiated by the church, external patrons or visitors’ needs – transformed the physical aesthetic of church space and how this, in turn, affected the experience of the medieval pilgrim. This paper aims to redress this balance through an analysis of St Neot parish church, Cornwall, examining how this rural parish not only venerated its local saint, but also helped create the sacred sensory environment in which the cult originated.

Published in the Journal of Church Archaeology, 2012.