3 December 2009
PI: Dr Avril Maddrell (UWE); co-investigators: Dr Veronica della Dora (University of Bristol) and Dr Alessandro Scafi (Warburg Institute); theological consultant: Prof. Heather Walton (University of Glasgow)
Within the humanities and social sciences, and society at large, there has been a resurgence of interest in pilgrimage in recent years. The primary aim of this research project is to bring a new perspective to understanding the significance of place in studies of Christian pilgrimage, with a particular focus on landscape as a lens through which pilgrims visualise and experience the spiritual, as well as being the site of the performance of pilgrimage itself.
We are interested in whether landscape aesthetics adds to a pilgrimage site's 'spiritual magnetism', how this is experienced and articulated by pilgrims and other visitors, and whether this blurs the distinction between pilgrims and other visitors. Another issue is whether landscape aesthetics attract large numbers to the sites, reducing the quality of experience and environment.
Veronica della Dora will work on the Metéora (literally 'suspended in the air') in Thessaly. Metéora is one of the largest monastic complexes and pilgrimage destinations of the Orthodox Church. Byzantine monasteries are built on natural sandstone rock pillars several hundred meters high and are deemed to constitute one of the most evocative landscapes in the world. Largely inaccessible prior to 1923, road access has opened the monasteries to large numbers of Orthodox pilgrims and tourists.
Grant: 10/01/10 - 10/01/11, £65 950