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Francis Woodman

Former Augustinian priory church in Northumberland, England, noted for its Anglo-Saxon crypt and Early Gothic transept. Founded c. ad 675 by St Wilfrid (d 709), Hexham was an important Anglo-Saxon building, and a cathedral from 681. Richard of Hexham (12th century) described the early church as ‘larger than any other house this side of the Alps’, while William of Malmesbury (c. 1124) said that Hexham displayed the ‘glories of Rome’ and that Wilfrid had brought Roman masons to build it. The church, dedicated to St Andrew, was a basilica with square piers supporting galleries over the aisles, perhaps extending around the west, and a clerestory. Access to the upper floor was by spiral stairs. The crypt ‘of wonderfully dressed stone’ (Eddius) survives beneath the present church. Other potentially early features suggest a bema-like eastern termination. A 7th-century English basilican church with both crypt and galleries is exceptional and recalls S Agnese fuori le Mura (...

Article

Carola Hicks

Term used to describe the art produced by the Ostrogoths, barbarian peoples whose invasion of the declining Roman Empire helped to transform Late Antique into medieval art. They occupied Italy in ad 488, and they were followers of Arianism. Their king Theodoric the Great (reg 489–526) had been brought up at the Byzantine court of Constantinople (now Istanbul); the arts that he promoted reflected his desire to be seen as a Roman emperor. At his capital Ravenna he restored historic buildings and commissioned new ones in the Byzantine style. His mausoleum combines Roman and Germanic elements; it is built of stone, in two storeys, with an arcaded base supporting a circular domed gallery, the roof of which is a single slab weighing 470 tons. The only decoration is a simple carved frieze. One of his churches, S Apollinare Nuovo, contains mosaics that celebrate the Ostrogothic kingdom. Other works include palaces at Ravenna and Verona and the refortification of many city walls. Theodoric also imitated the imperial coinage; on the gold ...

Article

José Luis Senra Gabriel y Galán

Spanish Benedictine abbey dedicated to S Benito, 60 km south-west of the city of León and on the pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostela. According to tradition, the settlement originated in the Visigothic period around the martyrial mausoleum identified with the Hispano-Roman saints Facundus and Primitivus. Documentary sources, however, do not mention the site before the second half of the 9th century, it was then abandoned as a result of Islamic attacks. Some years later, a Christian monastic community from al-Andalus restored the older religious establishment, founding an abbey. The initiative was supported by the Asturian King Alfonso III (reg 866–910). From the second half of the 10th century, Sahagún was unequalled in importance among the monasteries of the entire territory of Castille-León. Only two capitals are known from this period (held by the Museo de León and the Museo de Palencia, in S Lorenzo, Sahagún), during which the basilica was praised in documentary sources as ...

Article

Jordi Camps i Sòria

Hispano-Visigothic church, now in the village of El Campillo, in the province of Zamora, Spain. It was removed from its original site beside the river Esla, where a reservoir was to be built, and re-assembled in El Campillo. San Pedro de la Nave is not only one of the master works of the Visigothic world but also one of the most controversial. It most likely dates from between the 7th and 9th centuries; neither documentation nor archaeological evidence enables greater accuracy.

It was an important monastic centre in the 8th and 9th centuries, linked to the memory of saints Julian and Basilissa. According to 10th-century documents, it was dedicated to St Peter and St Paul and would have lost power when it came under control of Celanova Monastery, an event which had certainly taken place by 1222. Excavations undertaken in 1997 on the original site made it possible to establish an approximate dating for the complex....

Article

Carl D. Sheppard

Term applied to any object made by the Visigoths during their migrations across Europe from the 1st to the 8th century ad.

The Visigoths were a Germanic tribe first mentioned by Pliny the elder in the 1st century ad as living along the western shores of the Baltic Sea. They gradually moved south and east until the 4th century. Emperor Aurelian (reg ad 270–75) conceded Dacia to them, and the Visigoths were converted to Arian Christianity in this region; in 341 Ulfilas, an Arian bishop and monk, was appointed to the Goths. Later in the 4th century pressures on the peoples living to the north and east of the Visigoths caused them to move south of the River Danube and into the Roman Empire. Eventually their leader, Alaric, led them to Italy in 401, and their sack of Rome in 410 horrified the inhabitants of the Empire and caused much self-recrimination; it was to explain the event that St Augustine wrote ...