Speculations on the Visibility and Display of a Mortuary Roll

Stacy Boldrick

The curator Don Skemer described the separation between the world of books and the world of archives as a deep abyss, with curators of literary texts on the one side and keepers of public records and documents on the other.[1] In many ways, Western medieval scrolls and rolls inhabit both of these worlds, although some rolls have more of an affinity with one world than the other. Skemer contended that cataloguing and display practices in museum and library collections distinguish sacred and secular rolls such as Exultet rolls and other liturgical texts, prayer rolls, textual amulets, genealogical chronicles, works of drama, poetry, and music from administrative records such as charters and diplomas, statute rolls, and other practical texts more easily categorised as documents. Yet the particular characteristics of certain types of rolls, especially mortuary rolls, as objects with elements that fluctuate between the personal and the authoritative, the ephemeral and the archival, between original and copy, require that scholars not only cross Skemer’s abyss, but that they also draw expertise from other fields in order to address broader questions about the relationship between scroll and codex and the persistence and use of the roll form over the course of the Middle Ages.

Fig. 6.1 Mortuary Roll of Elisabeth ’sConincs (1458–1459), Vorst. Vellum, leather, wood, 1295.6 x 18.5 cm. Manchester: University of Manchester, John Rylands University Library, Latin MS 114. Photo: © John Rylands University Library, Manchester.

In this chapter I consider the facture and display of the mortuary roll of Elisabeth ‘sConincs (d.1458), Abbess of Forest (Vorst), to speculate on collective viewing practices and contexts for illuminated mortuary rolls in the late Middle Ages (figs 6.1–6.6).[2] Largely unfamiliar to non-specialists and rarely publicly displayed, mortuary rolls have been valued primarily as unique historic documents that identify travel routes, confraternity networks, and other religious institutional relationships; specific instructions for their physical engagement and display after facture are not fully known. As a result, text-based projects and comprehensive surveys and transcriptions of mortuary rolls dominate the field, and the relationship between their visual elements and the forms and stages of physical handling and engagement have attracted less discussion. In order to consider these viewing and engagement practices in greater depth, it is important to expand thinking beyond clearly defined, polarised perspectives about their operational contexts. Dichotomies such as production versus function, makers versus users, spiritual versus material commemorations, practices of display versus engagement and permanent versus transient memorials, are all problematic because they propose distinctions that segregate the mortuary roll’s tightly intertwined actions, processes, networks, and material elements. As I will show, mortuary rolls in their very nature transgress such divisions, and require appropriately attuned reflection which is expansive in its approach. Thus, as a way into this subject, this study argues for anachronistic thinking about the illuminated mortuary roll’s past material and performative operations in its referencing of medieval—and also present day—display practices and art works.

Likewise, approaches from different scholarly fields, including medieval and contemporary art history and material culture studies, are crucial to this analysis. My close examination of the ‘sConincs roll suggests that, like many mortuary rolls, its decorated elements— an illuminated frontispiece and obituary letter—existed separately before their attachment to its textual elements, consisting of hundreds of signatures, to form a single roll. The initial independence of these elements and their later attachment and interdependence inform my reflections on forms of collective engagement with the roll, forms that encompass facture, handling, viewing, prayer, and preservation in a range of display and storage contexts. Recent research on diverse subjects provides methodological and conceptual tools that inform my ideas: research on forms of physical and visual engagement with illuminated prayer rolls, genealogical rolls, and Exultet rolls; commemorative practices in communities of religious women; and ideas of collective authorship that address gender and class.[3] Finally, consideration of the durational and performative dimensions of display in both medieval mortuary rolls and scroll forms appearing in contemporary art makes it possible to assess mortuary rolls as mobile, dynamic, material objects, as well as static carriers of text and image.[4] The chapter begins with a close study of the ‘sConincs mortuary roll and the physical, geographical, and durational aspects of its facture and display, and is followed by a brief overview of the conventions, history, and legacy of the roll format and its uses. A comparative study of the scale, content, and forms of handling and engagement of other medieval illuminated rolls, together with reflections on contemporary art and museum display practices, propose a new range of possible contexts for the mortuary roll’s use.


Mortuary Rolls and the ‘sConincs Roll

A mortuary roll is an unusual object, less familiar than most other Western medieval manuscript roll forms because limited numbers survive, and perhaps also because of its diverse range of purposes as an obituary notice, a record of prayer exchange between religious communities, and as a commemorative object. At most, a mortuary roll can consist of three parts: an image of a recently deceased person on a deathbed or in a funerary scene (known as the frontispiece), an obituary letter (the encyclical), and signed, often dated promises of prayers from different religious communities (called tituli), joined together and rolled around a wooden dowel or cylindrical rod (fig. 6.2).[5] Some mortuary rolls begin with richly designed frontispieces, or contain illuminated letters in the encyclical, but others have no ornamentation. Some contain long poems and literary reflections on death, while others contain formulaic statements; some are unfinished or exist only as fragments, the direct or indirect result of their reuse or partial destruction, especially after periods of reform in northern Europe.[6] The most substantial part of the mortuary roll was a collection of tituli in the form of a list. A genre in its own right originating in legal and financial contexts, the list or register was also used in literary works such as Piers Plowman to represent a distinctive mode of writing that accounts for labour through enumeration.[7] Thus the signed promises can be understood to represent forms of labour and currency.

Folio 1r, the frontispiece. Mortuary Roll of Elisabeth ’sConincs
Fig. 6.2 Folio 1r, the frontispiece. Mortuary Roll of Elisabeth ’sConincs (1458–1459), Vorst. Vellum, leather, wood, 1295.6 x 18.5 cm. Manchester: University of Manchester, John Rylands University Library, Latin MS 114. Photo: © John Rylands University Library, Manchester.

The fundamental complexity of the mortuary roll lies in its material quantification of this immaterial labour and currency—of devotional acts and networks—making it both a spiritually binding document and a portable memorial, conveying the news of a death and eulogising the dead, but also consolidating contractual relationships between communities of the dead and the living. A diverse group of individuals from different social classes contributed to the making of a mortuary roll: the Abbot or Abbess, Prior or Prioress, who may have commissioned the roll; the precentor or head of the scriptorium who was responsible for the preparation of the roll; the illuminator; the almoners who supervised the roll bearer during their visit; the roll bearer who collected the signatures; and hundreds of signatories from religious communities, along with members of the communities themselves, who promised and returned prayers.[8] The roll bearer was a consistent agent in its facture, responsible for carrying a mortuary roll from one religious community to another and collecting signatures of promised prayers. Ordinarily male and not a member of a religious order, he left each community with a record of his visit and the promised prayer exchange in the form of a mortuary brief, a small note the size and shape of a bookmark, like a receipt.[9] As the collection of signatures grew, so did the length of the roll. Mortuary rolls recorded spiritual confraternities and the names of individual members of a confraternity, or other individuals to be remembered in prayer, so that when the roll was returned to the abbey or religious house, the names of the dead might conventionally be added to confraternity books and libri memoriales (memorial books).[10]

Scholarship on mortuary rolls has focused on transcription, assessments of quantitative and qualitative data, and comparative studies of other rolls or manuscripts. This work has shown that mortuary rolls are useful for identifying individuals and relationships between religious houses; where the signatures are dated, dates and locations can be used to map out travel routes and reflect upon potential modes of travel. The most critical publications on the subject range from Jean Dufour’s monumental five-volume survey of documented and existing mortuary rolls in Western Europe, to Lynda Rollason’s exemplary consideration of the highly complex Durham Ebchester-Burnby roll (Durham, DCL, MS B.IV.48; mostly after 1464), a roll requesting prayers for William Ebchester (resigned 1456; d. 1462/3) and John Burnby (d.1464), Priors of Durham, and related material at Durham.[11] Research on the mortuary roll of St Bruno (d.1110), founder of the Carthusian order, explores its long history, from its lost twelfth-century original on parchment to its sixteenth-century dissemination in print.[12] Over time, as institutional and spiritual networks changed, the production and value of mortuary rolls diminished for different reasons. Reused for later mortuary rolls or recycled as a result of iconoclastic practices, many only survive as fragments or as incomplete rolls, as an isolated illuminated frontispiece or an encyclical, or as a partial series of signatures.[13] As the form of the mortuary roll fell out of use, surviving examples became valued as rare collectors’ pieces rather than as vehicles for and records of prayer exchange. Thus, although the textual and visual elements of the mortuary roll were in many ways uniform, or at least consistent with established forms and practices, rolls now exist in a variety of material states, which make questions about the stages of their making challenging to resolve.

When each signature is dated and located in chronological order, these rolls are objects that can reveal a great deal about the timing of their assemblage. But in other respects, they are enigmatic. For example, it is routinely difficult to know what purpose they served after they were returned to a religious house and their tituli (signatures) had been entered into chapter books. They may have been stored away indefinitely, or elements such as illuminated frontispieces may have been displayed in some way: either momentarily shared between individuals or collectively viewed during an anniversary Mass.[14] Alternatively, as Rollason illustrates with the series of stitch-holes in the bottom edge of the Ebchester-Burnby frontispiece (detached from the encyclical letter and signatures), frontispieces, and in some cases encyclical letters could be reused in later mortuary rolls made for other religious heads, detached from tituli that were archived or used as waste parchment and reattached to new encyclicals or new membranes.[15] Close examination of the mortuary roll of Elisabeth ‘sConincs raises such questions about fragmentation and completeness in regard to viewing practices.

Rare as an illuminated mortuary roll still attached to its original roll holder, the ‘sConincs roll commemorates the death on 19 July 1458 of Elisabeth ‘sConincs (or Elizabeth Sconincx), Abbess of Forest Abbey, near Brussels. Measuring on average eighteen and a half centimetres wide and nearly thirteen metres long, it is composed of nineteen pieces of vellum; including the frontispiece, the encyclical letter, and seventeen membranes containing hundreds of tituli. Its dates, signatures and membranes have been counted, measured, partially transcribed and listed by M.R. James among others.[16] Radiocarbon dating has linked the roll holder (fig. 5) to the time of the manuscript’s assemblage.[17] From 6 September 1458 to 8 July 1459, the roll bearer Johannes Leonis collected for Elisabeth and her dead religious sisters 390 signatures of promised prayers from religious communities, ranging from abbeys and monasteries to hermitages. Over the course of the year, he made four return journeys out from Forest Abbey, travelling as far as Bruges, Bonn, Utrecht, Cologne, and Lille, returning for the last time on 8 July 1459, eleven days before the anniversary of the abbess’s death.[18] At each religious community, the mortuary roll was signed with the formulaic promise—oravimus pro vestris, orate pro nostris, ‘we’ll pray for your dead if you pray for ours’—or some variation on these words. In this way, the roll presents the viewer with an offer demanding reciprocity. The signatures occupy both the front and back surfaces of the roll, chronologically running from the third membrane to the last, before continuing onto the back of the third membrane and not the first (the frontispiece), or the second (the encyclical). This supports the idea that the frontispiece and perhaps the encyclical were not attached to the roll until after all of the signatures were collected. If so, like the frontispiece, the decorated encyclical could have been a copy of an obituary letter, and it could also have been made separately to the rest of the roll.[19]

Folio 1r, the frontispiece. Mortuary Roll of Elisabeth ’sConincs
Fig. 6.3 Folio 1r, the frontispiece. Mortuary Roll of Elisabeth ’sConincs (1458–1459), Vorst. Vellum, leather, wood, 1295.6 x 18.5 cm. Manchester: University of Manchester, John Rylands University Library, Latin MS 114. Photo: © John Rylands University Library, Manchester.

Attached to a leather cover, the first membrane of the ‘sConincs roll is a frontispiece consisting of an upper and lower register featuring spiritual figures above earthly ones. The upper register presents named images of the Virgin and Child, to whom the abbey was dedicated, St Benedict on the left, the order to which the nuns belonged, and St Elisabeth on the right, the Abbess’ patron saint. The frame’s upper edge has been trimmed, cutting into the upper two of four evangelist symbols in the spandrels (fig 6.2). The lower register features an image of a dying abbess and members of her community at Forest, along with two priests who conducted the daily religious rituals in the convent. A group of nuns may represent the living community or the other dead mentioned in the roll; damage to the nuns’ faces and to other parts of the frontispiece does not seem intentional or related to its use.[20] Illuminated in gold, specific elements unify the two registers and focus viewing: the staff held behind the head of the Abbess Elisabeth in the lower register echoes St Benedict’s gold staff in the upper register; likewise, the religious figures’ haloes and attributes are balanced by the gold background below, along with representations of enlarged liturgical instruments (cross, censer, incense-ship, monstrance, holy water bucket), which reference aspects of the Mass and death ritual.[21] The frontispiece aligns heavenly and earthly realms, appropriate for an object used to encourage and embody the exchange of prayers by the living for the dead.[22] An expensive, deluxe image, the ‘sConincs frontispiece exhibits what Herbert Kessler and Caroline Walker Bynum refer to as an object’s ‘overt materiality’: the capacity for painted religious sculptures, reliquaries and other objects to draw attention to embellishments with precious materials such as gemstones or gold.[23]

The ‘sConincs roll’s frontispiece follows the conventions of most later medieval frontispieces: a series of vertically sequential registers, usually at least two, starting with a spiritual figure or set of spiritual figures representing the institution’s order and saint, followed by either a deathbed scene (with the head oriented to the left), a funeral, an interment, or all three scenes beneath it. Not all mortuary rolls have illuminated frontispieces, but the Ebchester-Burnby roll includes elements common to many that do: three vertically ordered architectural registers, which begin with an image of the Heavenly Jerusalem, above scenes of the death of a prior with a soul being carried to heaven, and burial.[24] Collectively, these prefatory images evoke the prayers and Masses considered crucial for expediting the soul’s journey through purgatory.[25]

The conventional format for the frontispiece allowed it to be altered and reused, and its separation from the signatures even when stored together is not uncommon.[26] Other remarkable frontispieces demonstrate both the consistency of the register format—featuring institutional and individual patron saints above a deathbed and/or funeral scene—and the range of forms of depiction. The mortuary roll of Lucy de Vere, founder and prioress of the priory of St Cross and St Mary at Castle Hedingham (c.1225-1230), has one of the earliest surviving mortuary roll frontispieces: an image of the crucifixion and the Virgin, followed underneath by an image of Lucy de Vere’s soul being carried to heaven by two angels, and below it, a funeral.[27] The mortuary roll from the Abbey of Saint-Bénigne de Dijon (1439-1441) presents an image of the martyrdom of St Bénigne above recumbent abbots Etienne de La Feuillée (1430-1434) and Pierre Brenot (1435-1438).[28] Almost a century later, the extraordinary mortuary roll of John Islip, Abbot of Westminster (c.1532), features an image of Islip among labels naming his virtues, followed by images of his death, funeral, and chantry chapel.[29] Putting aside debates about the Islip roll’s status as unfinished or preparatory, its drawings retain these longstanding iconographic elements common to mortuary roll frontispieces. The only part of Islip’s encyclical to survive is the decorated letter U (inhabited by a coronation) of Universis, and on the right side an image of a monk passing a roll to a layman, perhaps intended to represent a roll bearer, whose role in the object’s facture is usually acknowledged in the encyclical text.[30]

Like frontispieces, encyclicals also adhered to a conventional format and formulaic language, often modelled on other obituary letters.[31] The ‘sConincs roll’s encyclical begins with a decorated letter inhabited by a Virgin and Child, announces the death of the Abbess Elisabeth, and includes the following request: ‘We earnestly beseech you that you may favourably and kindly wish to receive the bearer of the present roll, namely Johannes Leonis, when he comes, so that we may reciprocate our gratitude to you and yours in similar circumstances’ (fig. 6.3). As servants of the dead, roll bearers may have been caricatured as vultures of death, but communities were expected to accommodate them.[32] The making of the frontispiece, encyclical, and tituli at different times represents only some of the participants engaged in the making of the roll. Critically, it is important to acknowledge that at different stages in the assemblage of mortuary rolls, religious and lay men and women in elite and lower ranks collectively viewed, made, and handled parts of the roll, or played a part in these activities. They did so through material actions related to commissioning or illuminating the frontispiece and encyclical: collecting signatures, signing the roll, and also after signatures were collected through engaging in prayer.[33] The ‘making’ of the roll did not end with its return to the abbey a year later, but continued through the celebration of anniversary Masses, the practice of which will be addressed later in this chapter.

Over time, the ‘sConincs roll lost its original significance as a binding institutional record and as a constituent element of institutional memory. Forest Abbey was deliberately burned in 1582 and another fire took place in 1764 before the institution was finally suppressed in 1796, so although the mortuary roll survived it is not known precisely when it left the community and when its primary original function changed.[34] By 1899 it was purchased from the sale of Henry Yates Thompson’s Ashburnham Appendix manuscripts where it entered the Crawford collection and eventually the Rylands, but there is a significant gap between the abbey’s suppression and the manuscript’s sale.[35] It is not known why and how the ‘sConincs roll survived unscathed. Questions remain about the roll’s visibility within the abbey around the time it was made, the physical contexts for its display, handling and storage in 1459, and its immediate aftermath. As previously suggested, it could have been in permanent storage, possibly periodically consulted, or it could have been unfurled and put on display occasionally for anniversary Mass celebrations dedicated to Abbess Elisabeth. The viewers (including makers and audiences) of mortuary rolls had no reason to record facts about use and display. Our knowledge about the historic visibility and forms of physical display, handling, and engagement of the ‘sConincs roll may be limited, but broader conceptual considerations about it as a form can allow us to speculate on these matters.

Folio 2r, the encyclical. Mortuary Roll of Elisabeth ’sConincs
Fig .6.4 Folio 2r, the encyclical. Mortuary Roll of Elisabeth ’sConincs (1458–1459), Vorst. Vellum, leather, wood, 1295.6 x 18.5 cm. Manchester: University of Manchester, John Rylands University Library, Latin MS 114. Photo: © John Rylands University Library, Manchester.
Folio 3v, signatures. Mortuary Roll of Elisabeth ’sConincs (1458–1459), Vorst. Vellum, leather, wood, 1295.6 x 18.5 cm. Manchester: University of Manchester, John Rylands University Library, Latin MS 114.Photo: © John Rylands University Library, Manchester.
Fig. 6.5 Folio 3v, signatures. Mortuary Roll of Elisabeth ’sConincs (1458–1459), Vorst. Vellum, leather, wood, 1295.6 x 18.5 cm. Manchester: University of Manchester, John Rylands University Library, Latin MS 114.Photo: © John Rylands University Library, Manchester.
Folio 19r, signatures and roll holder. Mortuary Roll of Elisabeth ’sConincs (1458–1459), Vorst. Vellum, leather, wood, 1295.6 x 18.5 cm. Manchester: University of Manchester, John Rylands University Library, Latin MS 114. Photo: © John Rylands University Library, Manchester.
Fig. 6.6 Folio 19r, signatures and roll holder. Mortuary Roll of Elisabeth ’sConincs (1458–1459), Vorst. Vellum, leather, wood, 1295.6 x 18.5 cm. Manchester: University of Manchester, John Rylands University Library, Latin MS 114. Photo: © John Rylands University Library, Manchester.

Scrolls and Mortuary Rolls: Form and Physical Engagement

As a form, the roll has a long history, and its survival relates to the practical purposes that made it so necessary for certain kinds of contents. Most frequently referred to in Latin as a rotulus (roll or scroll), rolls preserved writing on a series of pieces of papyrus, parchment, or paper stitched or glued together, often wound around a roll holder (an umbilicus); when unrolled, they could be horizontally or vertically read.[36] Ancient Egyptian papyrus rolls preceded Greek and Roman rolls, with parchment rolls increasingly produced from the third century.[37] Important early twentieth-century studies of the roll form describe the gradual transition from the roll of Antiquity to the codex of the Middle Ages, as the ‘triumph’ of the codex over the roll in the fourth century.[38] In his classic study Illustrations in Roll and Codex, Kurt Weitzmann proposed that the codex brought with it the emancipation of the image from the text in the form of the frontispiece.[39] Debates about the reasons behind the transition from roll to codex continued in the work of Colin Roberts, T.C. Skeat, and William Harris, but the tendency to promote the codex over the roll denigrated the roll format as if it were outmoded technology.[40]

More relevant to this chapter is the roll’s survival rather than its decline. By the later Middle Ages, the roll became the more established format for specific types of religious and secular texts. Michael Clanchy found ‘more history than logic’ in the range of document styles in the later Middle Ages, describing the variations as adaptations of materials and formats rather than planned innovations, adaptations that were part of ‘bureaucratic routine’.[41] Clanchy also identified the use of parchment in itself as an attempt to preserve words for posterity in the late Middle Ages, noting that ‘to write on parchment was to make a lasting memorial … Parchment documents were valued in a way that no modern literate can appreciate.’[42] He noted that in the twelfth century, the increase in popularity of the Latin term rotulus to describe a record in roll format implies that the roll became the more established form for specific types of texts, both religious and secular.[43] In a world dominated by codices, but with other formats produced alongside, scholars have argued that the roll format had an ‘archaisising function’ and a ‘quasi-public authority’ linked to its symbolic, functional purposes and official uses: special practical or legal, ceremonial or liturgical functions.[44] More recent understandings assert that the purpose of a specific text dictated the choice of format.[45] Mary Agnes Edsall has called for a rethinking of assumptions about the authoritative associations of the roll form, arguing for its ubiquity in the face of the ephemerality of smaller extra-official or non-official and non-luxury rolls.[46] Debates about private versus public or congregational displays of different types of rolls have tended to settle into an understanding that medieval rolls were used for several distinct purposes and contexts: some legal and others liturgical; some private and intimate, yet others publicly displayed; some were intended to be more portable and ephemeral, yet others portable but permanent.[47] Mortuary rolls test and transgress such neat and clear distinctions.

Conceptual and material affinities between mortuary rolls and other vertical rolls (transversa charta) such as official and private statute rolls, genealogical rolls, prayer and amuletic rolls, and Exultet rolls, can inform speculation about the mortuary roll’s potential uses and forms of display. Like statute rolls, mortuary rolls were binding documents, records of spiritual networks and promises of prayer exchange; like genealogical rolls, they confirmed spiritual and earthly inheritance and succession (of institutional leadership). They were designed to protect souls, like prayer rolls; in their request for collective prayers; they also possessed a liturgical function, like an Exultet roll. Although prayer rolls and textual amulets can be found in ancient cultures and were geographically widespread—and genealogical rolls also have a long history—the production and survival of some rolls were not so common. Official governmental rolls (Exchequer and Chancery, Pipe Rolls) and private statute rolls were a unique form of legal administration in England. Exultet rolls were produced in Southern Italy from the tenth through the fourteenth centuries, and most mortuary rolls were made in central and northern France and Catalonia from the eighth century, with more widespread production found later in England, Belgium, Germany, and Austria.[48] These four types of rolls were also used in different ways: consulted when needed, read or sung aloud in citing a claim, or deployed in a performative context.[49]

A consideration of the purposes of these four roll types—statute, genealogical, prayer, and Exultet rolls—and their potential forms of handling and engagement, is useful when speculating about possible engagement practices and contexts for the mortuary roll. First, the statute roll (statuta Angliae) was a genre of legal literature encompassing the compilation of statutes, royal documents, legal treatises, and other records written in Latin and Anglo-Norman French, produced in codex form, but also in many different physical and textual forms—including roll forms—from the late thirteenth century. Private or non-official statute rolls were produced for ecclesiastical and secular landowners, merchants, and lawyers up to the early fourteenth centuries in the form of stacks of parchment membranes arranged in archival order and stitched together at the head, like other legal rolls such as Exchequer rolls, rather than assembled head to foot in a continuous roll of substantial length, like genealogical, prayer, and Exultet rolls.[50] The purpose of the genealogical roll was largely didactic, but also authoritative and consultative in its vertical tracing of the lineage of Christ, royalty, or nobility, and in the case of royal and aristocratic genealogies, could be linked to claims and rights to power; genealogies concurrently appeared in roll and codex forms throughout the Middle Ages.[51]

Like genealogical rolls, prayer rolls or amuletic rolls were also vertically read. They were protective or apotropaic objects: unrolled, visually examined, and read aloud; very occasionally placed around the abdomen during childbirth; rolled up and stored in containers; and suspended from chains and worn around the neck or in a pocket.[52] Instructions contained in the roll directed forms of physical or tactile engagement.[53] In this way, individuals used prayer rolls like Books of Hours: physical actions linked to devotional experience such as rubbing or marking could alter both books and rolls, but the flexible size and form of the prayer roll made possible a more corporeal, intimate experience in its physical binding to or wrapping around a part of the body. In some cases, drinking the watered-down ink taken from a prayer roll was thought to aid an affliction.[54] The folding or rolling of a textual amulet made them bi-directional, both vertically and horizontally legible.[55]

Unlike the varied forms of physical engagement and handling associated with the types of rolls above, as liturgical texts intended for ceremonial display, Exultet rolls had one form: they were consistently collectively viewed by a congregation and designed for that purpose. Consisting of hymns and prayers, music, and images, Exultet rolls were used in the consecration of the Paschal candle in the Easter liturgy. A critical part of a larger ceremony, the Exultet roll was a performative object: as the deacon sang and unfurled the roll from an elevated pulpit, the images were often—but not always—integrated upside down in the text, so that they appeared right side up before the congregation. Kelly links their survival and continuing manufacture through the nineteenth century to their status as extraordinarily precious and flexible objects, their form sumptuous and able to accommodate new texts or music.[56]

To a greater or lesser extent, performative dimensions underlie all of the above roll forms and perhaps this dimension played a part in their survival. We know that rolls existed alongside books, booklets, and folded pieces of parchment and paper throughout the late Middle Ages and beyond: representations of rolls point to this complementary coexistence. Skemer identifies perhaps the best visual depiction of this in the Workshop of Robert Campin’s Annunciation Triptych (Merode Altarpiece) (c.1427–32), its partly unfurled prayer roll and Book of Hours occupying the Virgin’s table, signifying the popularity of both in private devotional practice.[57] As symbols, when represented with books, rolls often represented the Old Testament or the Judaic foundations of Christianity. Rolls represented the ancient past and ruins in Eumnestes’s chamber in Spenser’s Faery Queen (1590/6), where: ‘all was hangd about with rolls,/ And old records from ancient times derivd,/ Some made in books, some in long parchment scrolls,/ That were all worm-eaten and full of canker holes.’[58] By 1600, the scroll remained a critical prop, a dramatic symbolic object, as in Christopher Marlowe’s Faustus when he hands over to Satan (Mephistopheles) the ‘deede of gift of body and of soule’, with its list of conditions read out loud: ‘I of necessitie, for here’s the scrowle, Wherein thou hast giuen thy soule to Lucifer.’[59] These representations reveal the continued relevance of the roll form as temporal markers in late medieval and early modern works of literature and visual art, with the capacity to reference the authority and the legacy of the distant past, acts of everyday personal devotion in the present, authorised institutional or personal claims to ownership, or other forms of relationship to be perpetuated in the future. As charged symbols or as background clutter, as domestic objects regularly handled or as records gathering dust in storage, the roll form possessed a motility and range of applications which contributed to its historic tenacity as an object.


Visibility, Display and Storage

If these late medieval and early modern representations of different kinds of rolls characterised them in a variety of states and conditions that alluded to their handling or storage, it is important to consider their performative contexts and engagement practices as several rather than singular, and as varied and temporal rather than fixed. Similarly, the making and viewing of the ‘sConincs roll entailed several contexts and agents, including the illumination of the frontispiece and the writing of the encyclical letter, the collection of signatures over the course of a year, and the practice of prayers after the roll was returned. However, it is a type of object without a continuous historical purpose or references to how it was viewed after signatures were collected.

Lacking the circumscribed liturgical purposes of Exultet rolls and the written instructions found in some prayer rolls, the ‘sConincs roll calls for more expansive approaches in order to understand its viewing contexts after its return to Forest Abbey. An anachronistic or comparative historical approach can address the mortuary roll’s performative durational dimensions by expanding the range of potential forms of encounter with the roll. But unlike some anachronistic approaches that suggest that medieval and contemporary rolls or their museum display practices and contexts are analogous, I will use this approach, as Hal Foster suggests, ‘as a vantage point from which to revise the (distant) past’.[60] The ‘vantage point’ of the present does not pretend to diminish historical distance, but rather helps us to acknowledge how current display practices restrict viewing encounters to a single fixed view which focuses on textual and visual elements, rather than presenting them as mutable objects that were handled and encountered in a variety of ways. These fixed views of historic rolls stand in stark contrast to the more relaxed (although still regulated) environmental conditions of contemporary art galleries, which present the roll form as a three-dimensional object with particular material and aesthetic qualities, whether as an autonomous sculptural object or part of a larger installation. Reflection on the different display practices for medieval rolls and rolls in contemporary art helps us to acknowledge the differences between conventional contexts for encountering rolls in the present and in the past. Taking these differences into consideration, along with observations on the scale, purpose, and forms of handling and engagement of other medieval illuminated rolls, we can acknowledge the roll’s material, three-dimensional characteristics and its capacity for changing states (and multiple views) through unrolling, making it possible to propose a range of scenarios for collective engagement with the mortuary roll. In this section, therefore, observations on museum display practices for medieval rolls and for roll forms in contemporary art, followed by a discussion of forms of handling and viewing other medieval rolls, will inform my thoughts on potential viewing contexts and storage for the ‘sConincs roll.

In their current contexts, most mortuary rolls sit in storage, no longer called upon to expedite souls through purgatory. They are assets valued for their material, historic, cultural, and economic characteristics rather than for their role in prayer exchange. They are physically unwieldy objects and few public institutions are in a position to dedicate enough space to display large sections of them on a long-term basis. Like any medieval manuscript, medieval rolls require stable environmental and material conditions provided by secure cases and galleries with controlled temperature, light, and humidity levels. Most mortuary rolls are displayed flat in standard cases that allow a small part of the roll to be shown, as was the case with the ‘sConincs roll in The Sparkle of Dust: Spotlight on the Rylands Archives (John Rylands Library, 1997) and the mortuary roll of Amphelisa, Prioress of Lillechurch (c.1225-30), in All Conquering Death (St John’s College, Cambridge, 2012).[61] Increasingly, other types of rolls with vertically progressing imagery such as genealogical rolls have been vertically displayed or mounted at an angle, as for example in Royal Manuscripts: The Genius of Illumination (British Library, 2011).[62] Longer-term displays of medieval Western rolls include the vertical display of the Genealogica Christi (c.1230) at the Cloisters in New York, and regularly changing views of parts of the Guthlac roll (1175-1215) in a generous table vitrine in Treasures of the British Library (Sir John Ritblat Gallery, British Library).[63] More recently, in COLOUR: The Art and Science of Illuminated Manuscripts (Fitzwilliam Museum, 2016), the suspension and extension of a substantial part of the fifteenth-century Ripley alchemical scroll, supported by a specially designed mount, directed attention to the act of unfurling the roll.[64]

In an exhibition and an online database, the project Medieval Scrolls at Harvard (Houghton Library, Harvard University, 2014) explored the scroll/roll form’s continued use in the age of the codex.[65] Viewed digitally, rolls are conventionally presented in codex-like sections and fragments, although more projects are underway to replicate scrolling through complete rolls.[66] As part of this publication, for the first time the ‘sConincs roll has been rendered into a single, scrollable digital roll, expanding its viewing networks and display contexts. However, all of these forms of display physically distance rolls from the viewer, rendering them static and visible only through glass or a screen. Apart from archivists and academics, few individuals encounter rolls as three-dimensional objects through physically handling them.

Stability and distance from human contact are necessary conditions for the preservation and survival of medieval rolls and for any vulnerable artefact or artwork. Conventionally, art galleries and museums rarely support audience interactions that take the form of moving, handling and manipulating historic objects unless they are part of the work or carefully regulated, or a facsimile is provided. From Adorno to Crimp, longstanding critiques of museums as mausolea—institutions that ossify artefacts through preservation and perpetual conservation in attempts to deny the nature of change and decay—draw attention to the impossibility of recontexualising artefacts when ‘original contexts’ are not simply defined or singular.[67] In Amy Knight Powell’s research on late medieval sculptures of the Deposition of Christ (crucifixes with moveable arms), with her application of the term ‘promiscuous’ to describe objects that were regularly relocated and her understanding of them as ‘dead’, she proposes that we understand their situation in a museum ‘less as a regrettable loss of their original context and “life” than as a perfectly appropriate expression of their carefully engineered capacity to be taken down and to be put up again’.[68] Powell’s terms are particularly appropriate for a mortuary roll: an itinerant object material in form, but ephemeral and intangible in its purpose of eliciting spiritual actions.

Like Deposition sculptures, the ‘sConincs roll encouraged prayers and regularly changed its location and appearance, opening and closing during its period of facture, and now exists solely as a material object divorced from its earliest users. With belief in the quantitative efficacy of prayers no longer a conventional part of contemporary life, mortuary rolls are not only (like all museum artefacts) institutionally and culturally decontextualised, but they are also challenging to interpret in a definitive way. As a repository of prayer exchange, the mortuary roll brought together material and spiritual worlds through the compilation of tangible, signed promises, and the intangible activity of collective prayer. Collective prayer is a form of intangible cultural heritage, a category defined by UNESCO as the practices and knowledges of a culture and a field of study in itself.[69] The preservation and presentation of intangible heritage is challenging for institutions not specifically designed for it; conventional display practices that fix to one place objects designed for movement unwittingly limit views of the material object, separating it from its intangible devotional uses and from any form of mobile handling, so that ultimately characteristics such as motility are lost, and its form is obscured.[70] Thus, a vitrined display of a mortuary roll represents a fractional view of its material form, and nothing of its intangible activities (prayer conducted by prayer networks), rendering it now even more remote as an object with no contemporary presence or familiar purpose.

In contrast to this partial view of a defunct object, roll forms in contemporary art can provide another perspective on the ‘sConincs roll’s durational and performative characteristics. Although obviously radically different to mortuary rolls, rolls in contemporary art works respond to the problem of the roll form’s mutability and performative dimensions because of their capacity to generate more intimate, time-based viewing experiences than are available in most museums displaying medieval manuscripts. Contemporary art galleries regularly facilitate closer encounters with artworks and support the realisation of artworks based on ephemeral and durational activity.[71] Without protective elements such as glass frames, Perspex hoods and barriers, viewers experience greater physical access to paintings, sculptures, and installations. In this environment, roll forms can be more fully encountered as three-dimensional objects or as moveable performative elements. One of the most iconic performances to include a roll is Carolee Schneeman’s Interior Scroll (1975), in which she slowly extracted a scroll from inside her body and read aloud from it. Another ephemeral artwork to incorporate rolls is Ian Breakwell’s performance Unword (1969/70), which featured the artist tearing through an installation of large rolls of suspended paper. Both performances were characterised by the temporality of their display, their durational and changing forms, and the capacity for rolls to be understood as extensions of and surrogates for the body.

Cornelia Parker, War Room (2015). Perforated paper negatives left over from production of remembrance poppies
Fig. 6.7 Cornelia Parker, War Room (2015). Perforated paper negatives left over from production of remembrance poppies, with thanks to The Poppy Factory, Richmond and The Royal British Legion, dimensions variable. Installation commissioned by The Whitworth, Manchester. Photo: © The Whitworth, Manchester.

The roll or scroll as body surrogate also features in work by the artists Fiona Banner, Gabriel Orozco, and Cornelia Parker, artworks that particularly resonate with several characteristics of the mortuary roll. Cornelia Parker’s installation War Room (2015) represented the bodies of the collective dead through absence, amassing the repetitive elements of identical, mechanical poppy-cuts in scrolls suspended from the ceiling and cascading down the walls (fig. 6.7). The installation commemorated past military deaths on a mass scale, but also collapsed time in its reference to the relentlessness of poppy production and war deaths in the present, past, and future.[72] In Fiona Banner’s retrospective exhibition Scroll Down and Keep Scrolling, her title piece, a single monumental scroll suspended from an extensive height presented a series of printed images of artworks, representing a body of work made over two decades and alluding to the body of the artist herself (figs 6.8 and 6.9).[73]

Book covers, tape, dimensions variable. Installation view at Ikon Gallery, Birmingham
Fig 6.8 Fiona Banner, Scroll Down and Keep Scrolling (2015). Book covers, tape, dimensions variable. Installation view at Ikon Gallery, Birmingham (10 Oct 2015–17 January 2016). Photo: © The artist and Frith Street Gallery, London.
Book covers, tape, dimensions variable. Installation view at Ikon Gallery, Birmingham
Fig 6.9 Fiona Banner, Scroll Down and Keep Scrolling (2015). Book covers, tape, dimensions variable. Installation view at Ikon Gallery, Birmingham (10 Oct 2015–17 January 2016). Photo: © The artist and Frith Street Gallery, London.

Unlike the large-scale work of Banner and Parker, Orozco’s anti-monumental presentation of both scrolls and their containers relates more closely to the body of the individual viewer, referring to the objects’ mutability and peripatetic states: rolled up and stored, rolled out and vertically suspended for viewing (fig. 6.10). Displayed on walls accompanied by numbered wooden and cardboard containers on tables in the centre of the gallery, Orozco’s abstract collages, made out of circular cuttings from obi (kimono sashes), flipped to show both the obverse and reverse side of the weave, imply a narrative of their movement between display and storage. They have been called ‘waiting objects’, Orozco’s term for temporary objects suggestive of a ritual purpose or system of signals, but ultimately enigmatic.[74]

Obi Scrolls (2015). Silk, washi, Japanese wood, dimensions variable. Installation view at Marian Goodman Gallery
Fig. 6.10 Gabriel Orozco, Obi Scrolls (2015). Silk, washi, Japanese wood, dimensions variable. Installation view at Marian Goodman Gallery, London. Photo: © Stephen White.

All of these works share a number of characteristics with the ‘sConincs roll: their displays were temporary and collectively made for collective viewing; they were commemorative; they were not presented in vitrines, so they could be seen as three-dimensional objects with the capacity for movement; finally, and perhaps most importantly, they registered as body surrogates in different ways. In contrast to conventional presentations of historic manuscripts behind glass, these artworks share space with the viewer, revealing the distance between encounters with historic manuscripts in conventional museum displays and our capacity to imagine encounters with them in the contemporary medieval world. If we understand mortuary rolls as durational objects with performative dimensions, rather than as simple carriers of texts and images, we can come to think of them as body surrogates. Or, in order to recognise concepts of soul-body dualism, as body and soul surrogates, with the roll commemorating the abbess’s earthly achievements and marking her soul’s status in purgatory.[75]


Medieval Rolls and their Handling

Although other types of medieval rolls did not share the same commemorative purposes, they were also durational objects with performative dimensions. The greatest physical closeness to rolls comes with handling them, and information about the scale and viewing practices of the later medieval rolls mentioned earlier can provide more evidence relevant to speculations about the ‘sConincs roll. Variations in the length of each type of roll are considerable, with some mortuary and prayer rolls as a long as twenty metres. However, it is their widths that are more distinct and critical to establishing the scale of the encounter, with prayer rolls and textual amulets the smallest, ranging in width from a little over one centimetre to around twenty centimetres; official and private statute rolls as well as genealogical rolls range in width from twenty to twenty-eight centimetres and wider; while Exultet rolls have an average width of around twenty-eight centimetres (27.85 cm), with lengths extending to over seventy centimetres (70.36 cm).[76] Mortuary rolls vary in size from fifteen to twenty-seven centimeters wide.[77] Individuals rather than large groups tended to consult statute rolls and prayer rolls.[78] Statute rolls could be viewed either in private or in court to make a claim in land ownership disputes, and smaller prayer rolls and textual amulets could be read or worn for apotropaic purposes: either unrolled and read or worn, physically bound to the body, or worn rolled up and encased, suspended from a chain.[79] Significantly larger in scale than most prayer rolls, Exultet rolls presented images to congregations through unrolling, vertical movements. As pedagogical tools intended to educate viewers about historical events, ancestral and familial lineage, and pedigree, genealogical rolls are largely thought to have been viewed on tables or desks by groups as well as by individuals, with an authoritative guide progressing through it in sections as it was unrolled.[80]

With all four of these roll types, the ‘sConincs roll shares characteristics: it preserved and stored its claims to promised prayers as if they were a form of currency or property, like a statute roll; its purpose was to evoke spiritual power through prayer, like a prayer roll; it addressed a group and could have been used once a year, like an Exultet roll. In the frontispiece’s upper and lower registers, the ‘sConincs roll also has an affinity with the vertical designs of genealogical rolls and prayer rolls, commemorating spiritual and earthly relationships and lineage in the representations of patron saints, nuns and priests.[81] However, it is also different to these rolls: neither monumental nor intimate, neither wholly liturgical nor a bodily accessory, but a commemorative object that collapses time, bringing together past, present and future in its facture and use.

Of all of the ‘sConincs roll’s differences with other roll types, the contrast between images and text in the frontispiece, encyclical, and its signatures is most pronounced. Its components could be viewed by an individual or a small group, but the size of its frontispiece—smaller than an Exultet roll but similar in scale, and its potential separation from the roll—suggests it could have been displayed in a spatially restricted liturgical setting. The frontispiece’s trimmed top edge also suggests its unintentional loss through wear if the top edge was routinely affixed to a wall. When compared to the very worn first two membranes, the frontispiece and the encyclical, the membranes that follow appear less well-handled, which suggests that the tituli were not frequently fully examined. Scholars have largely rejected speculations about the fixing to walls of most genealogical and Arma Christi rolls, because their images and texts are not large enough to register for viewers beyond an arm’s distance, and one might apply this thinking to mortuary rolls.[82] Again, however, it is important to note that mortuary rolls differ in their collective construction and collective commemorative purpose, with initially separate and potentially detachable elements, and associations with anniversary Masses.[83] The spiritual network’s collective prayers practised by groups and for groups suggest that the frontispiece may also have been viewed by a group. It is possible that the frontispiece alone could have been temporarily displayed near an altar, attached to a wall, or laid flat on another surface, occupying a role similar to a print nailed to a wall or the sculpted plaques commemorating the foundation of anniversary Masses in the Burgundian Netherlands.[84] Set into walls near altars, such plaques share with mortuary rolls associations with commemoration, ritual and prayer exchange.

However, an image on parchment is not monumentally fixed in the same way as a foundation plaque. The expectation that sumptuous images must primarily have been on public or formal display restricts the range of possible engagement contexts. The modes of display discussed above encompass constricted vertical or horizontal views of scrolls secured under glass or digitally viewed on a screen, as opposed to the original—variably suspended or potentially manipulated—temporary displays of the contemporary scroll and its status as a body/soul surrogate, evoking the simultaneous absence and presence of a body. Such forms of presentation free up viewing practices to include the visual or scopic, the performative and corporeal: ones that involve physical handling; reading alone or singing out loud to a group as performer; or looking at and listening to as viewer. Mortuary rolls therefore elicited several forms of engagement rather than solely one. Yet none of these scenarios includes the equally important idea of storage as display, a legitimate aspect of its history.

Thus my final point about the multiple modes of, and contexts for, physical and visual engagement with the ‘sConincs roll considers the significance of its absence from view. It may have been collectively made and included in a Mass celebration, but even if it was displayed more than once a year, it must have been in storage most of the time. Critically, an object out of sight and in storage was not invisible in the Middle Ages. Even in institutions with libraries, late medieval records and manuscripts were often kept together with other liturgical objects; inventories and catalogues put them at the end of a long list often because of their formal differences, but in some cases, because of their special contents.[85] As Pierre-Alain Mariaux’s insights into the functions of the treasury suggest, the treasury held objects with simultaneously terrestrial and celestial associations, serving as a threshold between visible and invisible worlds.[86] The medieval treasury, and to a certain extent libraries too, contained a collection of donations and acquisitions that as a whole represented the religious and lay communities, forming a kind of memorial of institutional history. The ‘sConincs roll may have been just such a memorial, representing an abbess important to Forest: this would in theory help account for its survival. Certain objects in treasuries were reused or transformed, and others conserved or preserved. Many of the highly valuable items in the treasury were there, Mariaux argues, because they were signs of something invisible.

The ‘sConincs roll certainly encompasses signs of invisible actions. Portable and expandable, the mortuary roll addressed and involved nearly 400 religious communities over the course of its facture. By understanding the list of collective signatures as a register of future actions, all of the communities can be understood to fulfill the performative elements of the mortuary roll through the labour of prayer exchange. The roll therefore operates like a binding register, where prayers become both possessions and debts in the exchange: intangible, highly valuable forms of capital in a spiritual economy made material. The frontispiece represents this invisible activity, with the image of the dead abbess and her community both a witness to the collective signatures and a reference to ongoing, collective prayer once the roll was returned to the abbey.

It is tempting to assume that the ‘sConincs roll’s frontispiece could only have been made to be displayed in a formal, devotional setting. Returning to its status as an expensive, deluxe image exhibiting characteristics of ‘overt materiality’, the size and quality of the image, along with its extensive gilding, suggests that it was intended to be shown, with the enlarged liturgical elements emphasising aspects of Mass celebration.[87] In a candlelit devotional setting, it would have had a spectacular presence, its reflective gold elements mirroring the liturgical instruments in the Mass.[88] Its display near an altar during the Abbess Elisabeth’s anniversary Mass celebration connected her religious family in prayer to hundreds of other religious communities. However, the idea that the ‘sConincs roll had to be displayed in a devotional context in order to register its visibility should not override the potential significance of its invisibility in storage in a treasury or a similar space, inhabiting a threshold between earthly and spiritual worlds. The roll had an intangible function as a collection of promised prayers and exchange, potentially consulted and displayed for anniversary celebrations, and stored again, like Exultet rolls. Winged altarpieces featuring donor portraits, such as those in Rogier van der Weyden’s Last Judgement of the Beaune Altarpiece (c.1445–1450), present potential commemorative parallels with the ‘sConincs roll and its changing states of visibility in regularly changing display contexts.[89]

As an obit, a commemorative image, and both the official record of and authoritative contract for perpetual networks of prayer, the ‘sConincs roll is a rich, problematic object to interpret. Speculation about the mortuary roll’s forms of physical engagement and viewing practices, from its announcement of a death and requests for prayer exchange, to its return to the abbey where it could have been displayed to accompany prayer at a particular altar, or stored and protected, or both, suggests that there was no single viewing context.[90] If we can consider the process of its making as part of its performance, then the roll’s journey and presentation to hundreds of other communities—the collection of signatures, its return, and ensuing prayer exchange—can all be understood to comprise original engagement contexts. After its return, it may also have been largely invisible, probably stored away for a longer period than it was viewed. By approaching the roll as a three-dimensional durational performative object, reflections on its temporality, portability, its momentary display and storage expand perspectives for viewing the mortuary roll in the present. Like any compelling memorial or commemorative work, the mortuary roll can be understood to represent absence, while at the same time functioning as a surrogate for the body of the Abbess and the collective dead. In short, the ‘sConincs roll tests our preconceptions about modes of visibility and display being principally singular, visual, and collective and about the limits we place on the purposes we want images to serve.

Stacy Boldrick is Lecturer and Programme Director for the MA in Art Museum and Gallery Studies in the School of Museum Studies, University of Leicester. Publications include Iconoclasm and the Museum (Routledge, forthcoming 2020); Iconoclasm: Contested Objects, Contested Terms (Ashgate, 2007 with Richard Clay); Striking Images: Iconoclasms Past and Present (Ashgate, 2013; with Leslie Brubaker and Richard Clay). Curatorial collaborations include: Wonder: Painted Sculpture from Medieval England (Henry Moore Institute, 2002; with David Parks and Paul Williamson) and Art under Attack: Histories of British Iconoclasm (Tate Britain, 2013; with Tabitha Barber).


[1] Don C. Skemer, ‘From Archives to the Book Trade: Private Statute Rolls in England, 1285–1307’, Journal of the Society of Archivists 16:2 (1995): p. 193.
[2] The roll is John Rylands University Library, Latin Manuscript 114, and was made between 1458 and 1459. The term ‘facture’ used here references practices of making. See Therese Martin, ‘Exceptions and Assumptions: Women in Medieval Art History’, in Therese Martin (ed.), Reassessing the Roles of Women as ‘Makers’ of Medieval Art and Architecture, 2 vols (Leiden and Boston: Brill, 2012), pp. 1–37.
[3] On prayer rolls, see Sonja Drimmer, ‘Beyond Private Matter: A Prayer Roll for Queen Margaret of Anjou’, Gesta 53:1 (2014): pp. 95–120; Mary Agnes Edsall, ‘Arma Christi Rolls or Textual Amulets? The Narrow Roll Format Manuscripts of “O Vernicle”’, Magic, Ritual and Witchcraft 9:2 (2014): pp. 178–205; Richard G. Newhauser and Arthur J. Russell, ‘Mapping Virtual Pilgrimage in an Early Fifteenth-Century Arma Christi Roll’, in Lisa H. Cooper and Andrea Denny-Brown (eds), The Arma Christi in Medieval and Early Modern Material Culture: With a Critical Edition of ‘O Vernicle’ (Farnham: Ashgate, 2014), pp. 83–112; K. Rudy, ‘Kissing Images, Unfurling Rolls, Measuring Wounds, Sewing Badges and Carrying Talismans: Considering Some Harley Manuscripts through the Physical Rituals they Reveal’, Electronic British Library Journal (2011), article 5, accessed 1 April 2016. On genealogical rolls, see Alixe Bovey, The Chaworth Roll: A Fourteenth-century Genealogy of the Kings of England (London: Sam Fogg, 2005); Julian Luxford, ‘Intelligent by Design: The Manuscripts of Walter of Whittlesey, Monk of Peterborough’, Electronic British Library Journal (2015), article 13, accessed 1 April 2016. On Exultet rolls, see Thomas Forrest Kelly, The Exultet in Southern Italy (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996). On relevant commemorative practices in communities of religious women, see Douglas Brine, The Wall-Mounted Memorial in the Burgundian Netherlands (Leiden: Brill, 2015); Brian Golding, ‘“Desire for the Eternal Country”: the Laity and the Wider World of Monastic Prayer in Medieval England’, in Santha Bhattacharji, Rowan Williams, and Dominic Mattos (eds), Prayer and Thought in Monastic Tradition: Essays in Honour of Benedicta Ward SLG (London and New York: Bloomsbury T & T Clark, 2014), pp. 255–270; Daniel Sheerin, ‘Sisters in the Literary Agon: Texts from Communities of Women on the Mortuary Roll of the Abbess Matilda of La Trinité, Caen’, in Laurie J. Churchill, Phyllis R. Brown and Jane E. Jeffrey (eds), Women Writing Latin: From Roman Antiquity to Early Modern Europe, vol. 2, Medieval Modern Women Writing Latin (New York and London: Routledge, 2002), pp. 93–131. On collective authorship see Herbert Kessler, Seeing Medieval Art, Rethinking the Middle Ages 1 (Peterborough, Ontario: Broadview Press, 2004); on collective authorship and the agency of women, see Therese Martin, ‘The Margin to Act: A Framework of Investigation for Women’s (and Men’s) Medieval Art-Making’, Journal of Medieval History 42:1 (2016): pp.1–25, accessed 19 September 2017, doi:10.1080/03044181.2015.1107751; Martin, Reassessing the Roles; see also Kathryn A. Smith, ‘Medieval Women are “Good to Think” With’ (review of Martin, Reassessing the Roles, in Journal of Art Historiography 9 (2013).
[4] Anne D. Hedeman, ‘Performing Documents and Documenting Performance in the Procès de Robert d’Artois (BnF MS fr. 18437) and Charles V’s Grandes chroniques de France (BnF MS fr. 2813)’, in J. Coleman, M. Cruse and K. Smith (eds), The Social Life of Illumination (Turnhout: Brepols, 2013), pp. 339–369; Lynda Rollason, ‘Medieval Mortuary Rolls: Prayers for the Dead and Travel in Medieval England’, Northern History 48: 2 (2011): pp. 187–223, accessed 1 May 2016; Sheerin, ‘Sisters of the Literary’; Adrian Heathfield, ‘Durational Aesthetics’, in Beatrice von Bismarck et al. (eds), Timing: On the Temporal Dimension of Exhibiting (Berlin: Sternberg Press, 2014), pp. 135–150.
[5] Jean Dufour, Recueil des Rouleaux des Morts (VIIIe siècle- 1536), 5 vols (Paris: Académie des inscriptions et belles-lettres, 2007); see also Jean Dufour, Les Rouleaux des Morts (Monumenta Palaeographica Medii Aevi: Series Gallica SGAL 5), (Turnhout: Brepols, 2009); Rollason, ‘Medieval Mortuary Rolls’; Christopher Cheney, ‘Two Mortuary Rolls from Canterbury: Devotional Links of Canterbury with Normandy and the Welsh March’, in D. Greenaway et al. (eds), Tradition and Change: Essays in Honor of Marjorie Chibnall (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985), p. 106.
[6] Sheerin, ‘Sisters of the Literary’, pp. 99–100, examines the mortuary roll of Matilda, Abbess of La Trinité, Caen (d. 1113). On literary signatures, see Monique Goullet, ‘De Normandie en Angleterre: Enquête sur la Poétique de Trois Rouleaux Mortuaires’, in Autour de Serlon de Bayeux: La Poésie Normande aux XIe-XIIe siècles, Tabularia (2016), accessed November 2017, http://journals.openedition.org/tabularia/2782.
[7] Andrew Cole, ‘Scribal Hermeneutics’, in Kellie Robertson and Michael Uebel (eds), The Middle Ages at Work: Practicing Labor in Late Medieval England (New York: Palgrave MacMillan, 2004), pp. 185–192.
[8] On monastic prayer exchange and reciprocity, see Golding, ‘“Desire for the Eternal Country”’, pp. 256–257. Rollason, ‘Medieval Mortuary Rolls’, pp. 195–199. Martha G. Newman, ‘Labor: Insights from a Medieval Monastery’, in Celia Chazelle et al. (eds), Why the Middle Ages Matter: Medieval Light on Modern Injustice (Abingdon and New York: Routledge, 2012), pp. 106-120.
[9] Rollason, ‘Medieval Mortuary Rolls’, p. 196; Cheney, ‘Two Mortuary Rolls’; N. Ker, ‘Mortuary briefs’, Worcestershire Historical Society New Series Miscellany I (1960): pp. 53–59.
[10] Rollason, ‘Medieval Mortuary Rolls’, p.187; on libri memoriales, see Eva-Maria Butz and Alfons Zettler, ‘The Making of the Carolingian Libri Memoriales: Exploring or Constructing the Past?’, in Elma Brenner, Meredith Cohen and Mary Franklin-Brown (eds), Memory and Commemoration in Medieval Culture (Farnham, Ashgate, 2013), pp. 79; Stacy Boldrick, ‘An Encounter between Death and an Abbess: The Mortuary Roll of Elisabeth ‘sConincs, Abbess of Forest (Manchester, John Rylands Library, Lat. Ms. 114)’, Bulletin of the John Rylands Library 82:1 (Summer 2000): pp. 29–48; David Rollason et al. (eds), The Durham Liber Vitae and its Context (Woodbridge: Boydell and Brewer, 2004). See also Rolf de Weijert, Kim Ragetli, Arnoud-Jan Bijsterveld and Jeannette van Arenthals (eds), Living Memoria: Studies in Medieval and Early Modern Memorial Culture in Honour of Truus van Bueren, Middeleeuwse Studies en Bronnen 137 (Verloren: Hilversum, 2011); N. Huyghebaert, Les Documents Nécrologique, Typologie des Sources du Moyen Âge Occidental, 4 (Turnhout: Brepols, 1972).
[11] Dufour, Recueil des Rouleaux; Rollason, ‘Medieval Mortuary Rolls’.
[12] H. Beyer, G. Signori and S. Steckel (eds), Bruno the Carthusian and his Mortuary Roll: Studies, Text, and Translations (Turnhout: Brepols, 2014); Jean Dufour, ‘Le Rouleau des Morts de Saint Bruno’, Comptes Rendus des Séances de l’Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres 147:1 (2003): pp. 5–26.
[13] Ker, ‘Mortuary briefs’; Rollason, ‘Medieval Mortuary Rolls’, pp. 193–194.
[14] On private masses, see A. Angendendt, ‘Missa specialis. Zugleich ein Beitrag zur Entstehung der Privatmessen’, Frühmittelalterliche Studien 17 (1983); on anniversary Masses, see Miri Rubin, Corpus Christi: The Eucharist in Late Medieval Culture, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992), p. 50, 153.
[15] Rollason, ‘Medieval Mortuary Rolls’, pp. 193–196. St John Hope, ‘The Obituary Roll’, pp. 42–43.
[16] M.R. James, A Descriptive Catalogue of the Latin Manuscripts in the John Rylands Library at Manchester, reprinted with an introduction and additional notes and corrections by F. Taylor (Munich: Kraus Reprint, 1980), pp. 201-10; Boldrick, ‘An Encounter between Death and an Abbess’; Dufour, Recueil des Rouleaux 4:354. It is briefly mentioned in Paul Binski, Medieval Death: Ritual and Representation (London: British Museum Press, 1996), p. 31.
[17] C. Bronk Ramsey, T. H. F. Higham, D. C. Owen, A. W. G. Pike, and R. E. M. Hedges, ‘Radiocarbon dates from the Oxford AMS system: Archaeometry Datelist 31’, Archaeometry 44:3 (2002): pp. 1–149.
[18] The date of death is recorded on the roll as xiiij kalends Augusti, or 19 July; later sources mistakenly identify the date as 19 August; see ‘Liste des Abbesses de la noble Abbaye de Forest’, in La Vie et les Miracles de Ste. Alene, Vierge et Martyre (Brussels: J. L. de Boubers, 1783), pp. 75–82. Leonis’s four return journeys from Brussels incorporated the following routes: Ghent, Maastricht, Liege; Utrecht, Cologne, Bonn, Aachen, Namur; Lille, Bruges, St-Omer, Ghent; Nivelles, Braine, Brussels.
[19] Detached frontispieces are more common than detached encyclicals, which are often accompanied by tituli on both sides of the membrane. Although mortuary rolls share the same basic format, as the research of Dufour and Rollason suggests, variations in forms of assemblage and survival, along with the regular reuse or archiving of rolls, make it difficult to confirm the separation of both the ‘sConincs roll’s frontispiece and/or encyclical letter from its signature membranes based solely on the signatures beginning on the back of the third membrane.
[20] The surface damage does not suggest specific targeting of individual faces or areas of the character discussed in Rudy, ‘Kissing Images’, and Eamon Duffy, Marking the Hours: English People and Their Prayers, 1240-1570 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2011). The figures also do not take the form of donor portraits; Alexa Sand, Vision, Devotion, and Self-Representation in Late Medieval Art (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014).
[21] Josef Jungmann, Missarum Sollemnia: Eine genetische Erklärung der römischen Messe, 5th edn, 2 vols (Vienna: Herder, 1962). On death ritual, see Bruce Gordon and Peter Marshall (eds), The Place of the Dead: Death and Remembrance in Late Medieval and Early Modern Europe (Cambridge: University of Cambridge, 2000); Binski, Medieval Death; on deathbed iconography in mortuary rolls and other manuscripts, see Boldrick, ‘An Encounter’, pp. 44–47.
[22] On the frontispiece as idealised vision, see Hedeman, ‘Performing Documents’, p. 343.
[23] Kessler, Seeing Medieval Art, p. 19; Caroline Walker Bynum, Christian Materiality: An Essay on Religion in Late Medieval Europe (New York: Zone Books, 2011), pp. 53–82.
[24] Rollason, ‘Medieval Mortuary Rolls’, pp. 188–192.
[25] Jacques Le Goff, The Birth of Purgatory, trans. A. Goldhammer (London and Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1984); B. P. McGuire, ‘Purgatory, the Communion of Saints and Medieval Change’, Viator 20 (1989); Patrick J. Geary, Living with the Dead in the Middle Ages (Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press, 1994), pp. 77–94.
[26] Rollason, ‘Medieval Mortuary Rolls’, p. 188, 193–194, 215. St John Hope, ‘The Obituary Roll’, pp. 45–51.
[27] The roll is now British Library, MS Egerton 2849. See ‘Detailed record for Egerton 2849, Mortuary roll of Lucy, foundress and first prioress of the Benedictine nunnery of Castle Hedingham, with tituli (responsive prayers) 1–6’, British Library Catalogue of Illuminated Manuscripts, accessed 7 July 2016, https://www.bl.uk/catalogues/illuminatedmanuscripts/record.asp?MSID=6342&CollID=28&NStart=2849.
[28] The roll is now in Bibliothèque municipale de Troyes, MS 2256. See Lucien Morel-Payen and Emile Dacier (eds), Les plus beaux manuscrits et les plus belles reliures de la Bibliothèque de Troyes (Troyes: Paton, 1935), pp. 152–153; Dufour, ‘Le rouleau des morts’, p. 8; ‘Troyes, BM, 2256’, Initiale: Catalogue des manuscrits enluminés, accessed 13 May 2019, http://initiale.irht.cnrs.fr/codex/4969.
[29] Matthew Payne, ‘The Islip Roll Reexamined’, The Antiquaries Journal, 97 (September 2017), accessed 13 October 2017, doi:10.1017/S0003581517000245; John Goodall, ‘The Jesus Chapel or Islip’s Chantry at Westminster Abbey’, Journal of the British Archaeological Association, 164:1 (2011): pp. 260–276; Dufour, Recueil des Rouleaux 4: p. 457; W. H. St John Hope, ‘The Obituary Roll of John Islip, Abbot of Westminster, 1500–1532, with Notes on Other English Obituary Rolls’, Vetusta Monumenta 7:4 (1906).
[30] St John Hope, ‘The Obituary Roll’, p. 50.
[31] Rollason, ‘Medieval Mortuary Rolls’, pp. 195–196. St John Hope, ‘The Obituary Roll’, p. 40.
[32] See O. Bled, ‘Les rotuli et les rolligeri de l’abbaye de Saint Bertin à Saint-Omer’, Bulletin philologique et historique de Comité des traveaux historiques (1900): pp. 401–412 and A. Molinier, Les obituaries français au moyen âge (Paris: Imprimerie nationale, 1890), p. 43. Rollason, ‘Medieval Mortuary Rolls’, notes the community’s responsibility to accommodate roll bearers; providing shelter and sustenance and in some cases financial support, pp. 197–198.
[33] Sheerin, ‘Sisters of the Literary’, pp. 98 describes the mortuary roll’s textual elements as ‘performative and of performance’ in their explicit public purposes and duties, and related claims to and assertions of confraternal rights and prestige. On prayer exchange and performance, see Golding, ‘“Desire for the Eternal Country”, pp. 256–269. On collective making, see Kessler, Seeing Medieval Art; Martin, Reassessing the Roles.
[34] A. Despy-Meyer, ‘Abbaye de Forest’, in U. Berlière et al. (eds), Monasticon Belge (Liège and Abbaye de Maredsous: Centre National de Recherches à Histoire Religieuse, 1890–1970) vol. iv, pt. 1 (1964): pp. 189­­­–217, p. 205. On the abbey, see Georges Despy, ‘Un prieuré dans la banlieu rurale de Bruxelles: les Bénédictines de Forest du début du XIIe au milieu du XIIIe siècle’, Cahiers bruxellois XXXV (1995-1996): pp. 1–42 and Edgar de Marneffe, Cartulaire de l’Abbaye d’Afflighem et des Monastères qui en Dépendaient, 5 vols (Leuven: Peeters, 1894–1901).
[35] N. Barker, Bibliotheca Lindesiana (London: Bernard Quaritch, 1978), p. 342.
[36] Pamela Robinson, ‘The Format of Books: Books, Booklets and Rolls’, in Nigel J. Morgan and Rodney M. Thomson (eds), The Cambridge History of the Book in Britain (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008), p. 43; Kelly, The Exultet, p. 12; Skemer, ‘From Archives to the Book Trade’, pp. 197-8; Michael Clanchy, From Memory to Written Record: England 10661307, 2nd edn (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1993), pp. 135–144; L. W. Daly, ‘Rotuli: Liturgy Rolls and Formal Documents’, Greek, Roman and Byzantine Studies 14 (1973): pp. 333–338.
[37] See Colin H. Roberts, ‘The Codex,’ Proceedings of the British Academy 40 (1954): pp. 169–204; Colin H. Roberts and T. C. Skeat, The Birth of the Codex (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1987); William V. Harris, ‘Why Did the Codex Supplant the Book-Roll?’ in John Monfasani and Ronald G. Musto (eds), Renaissance Society and Culture: Essays in Honor of Eugene F. Rice (New York: Italica, 1991), pp. 71–85; Skemer, ‘From Archives to the Book Trade’; Don C. Skemer, ‘Amulet Rolls and Female Devotion in the Late Middle Ages’, Scriptorium 55 (2001): 197–227; Don C. Skemer, Binding Words: Textual Amulets in the Middle Ages (University Park: Penn State Press, 2006); Kelly, The Exultet, p. 12.
[38] See Kurt Weitzmann, Illustrations in Roll and Codex: A Study of the Origin and Method of Text Illustration (Princeton: University Press, 1970 [1947]); Roberts, ‘The Codex’; Harris, ‘Why Did the Codex Supplant’. The term ‘triumph’ appears in Skemer, ‘Amulet Rolls’, p. 2 and Jeffrey Hamburger, ‘Openings’, in Gregory Kratzmann (ed.), Imagination, Books and Community in Medieval Europe: Papers of a Conference Held at the State Library of Victoria, Melbourne, Australia 2931 May 2008 (South Yarra, Victoria: Macmillan Art Publishers, 2009), p. 70.
[39] Weitzmann, Roll and Codex; John Williams (ed.), Imaging the Medieval Bible (University Park, PA: Penn State University Press, 1999), challenges Weitzmann’s archetypes on pp. 4–7.
[40] Roberts and Skeat, The Birth of the Codex; Harris, ‘Why Did the Codex Supplant’.
[41] Clanchy, From Memory, p. 144.
[42] Clanchy, From Memory, p. 145. Richard H. Rouse, ‘Roll and Codex: The Transmission of the Works of Reinmar von Zweter’, in Gabriel Silagi (ed.), Pälaographie 1981: Colloquium des Comité International de Paléographie, München, 15-18 September 1981, Münchener Beiträge zur Mediävistik und Renaissance-Forschung 32 (Munich: Arbeo-Gesellschaft, 1982) emphasises the roll’s ephemerality, portability and economy of cost and scale, but William D. Paden, ‘Roll versus Codex: The Testimony of Roll Cartularies’, Rivista di Studi Testuali 6–7 (2004–2005) argues that rolls were also made to be as permanent as books, and could be large, expensive and less portable.
[43] Clanchy, From Memory, p. 135–136. Robinson, ‘The Format of Books’, pp. 43–45; Ernst C. W. Wattenbach, Das Schriftwesen im Mittelalter, 3rd edn (Leipzig, S. Hirzel, 1896).
[44] Skemer, ‘From Archives to the Book Trade’, p. 198; Kelly, The Exultet, p. 14; Edsall, ‘Arma Christi Rolls’, p. 198.
[45] Robinson, ‘The Format of Books’, pp. 45.
[46] Edsall, ‘Arma Christi Rolls’, pp. 196–197.
[47] See Robinson, ‘The Format of Books’, pp. 44–45; and Edsall, ‘Arma Christi Rolls’, pp. 180–182.
[48] Kelly, The Exultet, pp. 16–17. Dufour, Recueil des Rouleaux, vol. 1, p. VII; Rollason, ‘Medieval Mortuary Rolls’, p. 211, n. 70 notes that mortuary rolls were not circulated in Ireland, Italy, Portugal, Castile or in Catalonia after the beginning of the twelfth century, although the reason for this is not known.
[49] Clanchy, From Memory, pp. 137–144; Kelly, The Exultet, pp. 3–11, 20–29, 104–113. Skemer, ‘From Archives to the Book Trade’, pp. 198–200.
[50] Skemer, ‘From Archives to the Book Trade’, p. 194. Skemer calls private statute rolls ‘the best evidence of the open borders between archives and books’.
[51] Studies of genealogical rolls concerned with the relationship between design and form include Luxford, ‘Intelligent by Design’, pp. 1–33; O. de Laborderie, ‘The First Manuals of English History: Two Late Thirteenth-Century Genealogical Rolls of the Kings of England in the Royal Collection’, Electronic British Library Journal (2014), article 4, accessed 3 April 2016, http://www.bl.uk/eblj/2014articles/article4.html; W. H. Monroe, ‘Thirteenth- and Early Fourteenth-century Illustrated Genealogical Manuscripts in Roll and Codex: Peter of Poitiers’ Compendium, Universal Histories and Chronicles of the Kings of England’ (Unpublished PhD Diss., University of London, Courtauld Institute of Art, 1990). On the didactic purpose of the genealogical roll see Bovey, The Chaworth Roll; Olivier de Laborderie, ‘A New Pattern for English History: The First Genealogical Rolls of the Kings of England’, in Raluca L. Radulescu and Edward Donald Kennedy (eds), Broken Lines, Genealogical Literature in Medieval Britain and France (Turnhout: Brepols, 2008), pp. 45–61; Robert A. Rouse, ‘Inscribing Lineage: Writing and Rewriting the Maude Roll’, in Stephanie Hollis and Alexandra Barratt (eds), in Migrations: Medieval Manuscripts in New Zealand (Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2007), pp. 108–122; Margaret Lamont, ‘“Genealogical” History and the English Roll’, in Henry Kelly (ed.), Medieval Manuscripts, Their Makers and Users: A Special Issue of Viator in Honor of Richard and Mary Rouse (Turnhout: Brepols, 2001), accessed 12 May 2016, doi.org/10.1484/M.STPMSBH-EB.1.100069. On prayer rolls assimilating features of genealogical rolls, see Drimmer, ‘Beyond Private Matter’, pp. 107–113.
[52] See Don C. Skemer, Binding Words; Robinson, ‘The Format of Books’, pp. 44–45 and Edsall, ‘Arma Christi Rolls’, pp. 178–188; Newhauser and Russell, ‘Mapping Virtual Pilgrimage’, pp. 83–84. On birth girdles see in this volume Katherine Hindley, ‘“Yf A Woman Travell Wyth Chylde Gyrdes Thys Mesure Abowte Hyr Wombe”: Reconsidering the English Birth Girdle Tradition’ .
[53] Drimmer, ‘Beyond Private Matter’, pp. 101–102; Edsall, ‘Arma Christi Rolls’, pp. 199–205; Rudy, ‘Kissing Images’, p. 1; Skemer, Binding Words, pp. 259–268; Katherine Rudy, ‘Images, Rubrics and Indulgences on the Eve of the Reformation’, in C. Brusati, Karl A.E. Enenkel, and Walter S. Melion (eds), The Authority of the Word: Reflecting on Image and Text in Northern Europe, 1400-1700 (Leiden and Boston: Brill, 2011), pp. 443–479. See also Duffy, Marking the Hours; Anne Rudolf Stanton, ‘Turning the Pages: Marginal Narratives and Devotional Practice in Gothic Prayerbooks’ in Sarah Blick and Laura D. Gelfand (eds) Push Me, Pull You: Imaginative, Emotional, Physical, and Spatial Interaction in Late Medieval and Renaissance Art (Boston: Brill, 2011), pp. 75–121; and Laura D. Gelfand, ‘Illusionism and Interactivity: Medieval Installation Art, Architecture and Devotional Response’, in Blick et al. (eds), Push Me, pp. 85–116.
[54] Skemer, Binding Words, p. 137.
[55] Skemer, Binding Words, p. 139.
[56] Kelly, The Exultet, pp. 6–7.
[57] Skemer, Binding Words, pp. 272–276.
[58] Clanchy, From Memory, p. 143. Spenser, Book II, canto ix, verse 57.
[59] ‘scroll, n.’ OED Online. Oxford University Press, accessed 28 May 2016, http://www.oed.com/view/Entry/173658?rskey=5TLm1J&result=1. The OED references the word’s 1593 appearance in Christopher Marlowe, The Tragicall History of D. Faustus, 1st edition (London: V. S. for Thomas Bushell, 1604).
[60] Hal Foster, ‘Preposterous Timing’, London Review of Books 34:21 (8 November 2012). See Amy Knight Powell, Depositions, n. 4, p. 268 and Fred Orton et al. (eds), Fragments of History: Rethinking the Ruthwell and Bewcastle Monuments (Manchester: Manchester University Press), p.67. See Alexander Nagel and Christopher S. Wood, Anachronic Renaissance (New York: Zone Books, 2010) and Alexander Nagel, Medieval Modern: Art Out of Time (New York: Zone Books, 2012); Keith Moxey, Visual Time: The Image in History (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2013); Asa Simon Mittman and Susan M. Kim, ‘Locating the Devil “Her” in MS Junius 11’, Gesta 54:1 (2015): pp. 3–25.
[61] The Amphelisa roll is now St John’s College, Cambridge, MS 271/N.31. No catalogue or other documentation was produced for The Sparkle of Dust; my thoughts here rely on personal communication with the Rylands’ Joint Head of Special Collections, Stella Halkyard. ‘The Mortuary Roll of Amphelisa Prioress of Lillechurch’, accessed 12 April 2016, http://www.joh.cam.ac.uk/library/special_collections/manuscripts/medieval_manuscripts/medman/N_31.htm; C. E. Sayle, ‘The Mortuary Roll of Amphelisa Prioress of Lillechurch in Kent’, Proceedings of the Cambridge Antiquarian Society 10 (1901–1902): pp. 383–410.
[62] Catalogue entries 117 and 118, Genealogical Chronicle of the English Kings (British Library, Royal 14 B. v and vi), in Scot McKendrick, John Lowden and Kathleen Doyle (eds), Royal Manuscripts: The Genius of Illumination (London: British Library, 2011), pp. 344–347.
[63] The Guthlac roll is now British Library, Harley Roll Y 6.
[64] This roll is Fitzwilliam Museum MS 276. I am grateful to John Lancaster for information about his design methods. Catalogue entry 25, in Stella Panayotova, Deirdre Jackson, and Paola Ricciardi (eds), Colour: The Art & Science of Illuminated Manuscripts (London: Harvey Miller Publishers, 2016), pp. 115-117; on the mount designed by Lancaster, see note p. 10.
[65] Medieval Scrolls Digital Archive, accessed 26 April 2016, http://medievalscrolls.com/scrolls.
[66] See the project ‘Rolling History’, accessed 1 December 2017, http://rollinghistory.bodleian.ox.ac.uk. Other digital projects include the Canterbury Roll Project (Christchurch, University of Canterbury, MS 1), accessed 1 December 2017, http://canterburyroll.canterbury.ac.nz/.
[67] Douglas Crimp, On the Museum’s Ruins (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1993), pp. 44–45 and 54–56. Crimp cites Theodor W. Adorno, ‘Valéry Proust Museum’, Prisms, (trans.) Samuel and Sherry Weber (Cambridge: MIT Press, 1996), pp. 175–185. See also Catherine Lui, ‘Art Escapes Criticism, or Adorno’s Museum’, Cultural Critique 60 (Spring 2005): pp. 217–244.
[68] Amy Knight Powell, Depositions, p. 17.
[69] ‘Text of the Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage’, accessed 1 December 2017, https://ich.unesco.org/en/convention. On intangible heritage, see Simon Knell, ‘The Intangibility of Things’, in Sandra Dudley (ed.), Museum Objects (London: Routledge, 2012), 324–335, and Sandra Dudley, ‘Introduction’, in Sandra Dudley (ed.), Museum Materialities: Objects, Engagements, Interpretations (London: Routledge, 2013).
[70] Sandra Dudley, ‘Introduction to Part I’, in Dudley (ed.), Museum Objects, pp. 19–21; Chris Dorsett, ‘Things and Theories: The Unstable Presence of Exhibited Objects’ in Sandra Dudley et al. (eds), The Thing about Museums: Objects and Experience, Representation and Contestation (London: Routledge, 2012), pp. 100–116. Note also Andrew Cole, ‘Those Obscure Objects of Desire: on the Uses and Abuses of Object-Oriented Ontology and Speculative Realism’, Artforum (2015): pp. 318–323; Andrew Cole, Kerstin Stakemeier, and Christopher Wood in Emily Apter et al. (eds), ‘Questionnaire on Materialisms’, October 155 (2016): pp. 23–5, 98–100, 105–7.
[71] Claire Bishop, ‘Performative Exhibitions: The Problem of Open-endedness’, in von Bismarck et al. (eds), Timing, pp. 222–223, 252–253. Heathfield, ‘Durational Aesthetics’, pp. 140–143.
[72] Linda Pittwood, ‘The Big Interview: Cornelia Parker’, The Double Negative (18/02/15), accessed 23 March 2016, http://www.thedoublenegative.co.uk/2015/02/the-big-interview-cornelia-parker/
[73] The artwork also takes the form of a codex in Fiona Banner: Scroll Down and Keep Scrolling (London: The Vanity Press in association with Ikon Gallery, Birmingham and Kunsthalle Nuremberg, 2015); the title refers to both a subject (which Banner describes as ‘something endless’) and to an action (‘the act of looking back historically’), rather than to digital scrolling as in Graham Harwood’s work Uncomfortable Proximity (2000), accessed 14 March 2016, http://www2.tate.org.uk/netart/mongrel/home/default.htm.
[74] Briony Fer, ‘One Inside the Other Down to Emptiness’, Gabriel Orozco: Rotating Objects (New York: Marian Goodman Gallery, 2016), pp. 115–128. On Orozco’s ‘waiting objects’, see Margaret Iversen, ‘Readymade, Found Object, Photograph’, Art Journal, 63:2 (2004): pp. 54–57. The scroll form also appears in Orozco’s Dial Tone, 1992.
[75] On the performative aspects of mortuary rolls, see Sheerin, ‘Sisters of the Literary’, pp. 98–100; Caroline Walker Bynum, ‘Material Continuity, Personal Survival and the Resurrection of the Body: A Scholastic Discussion in Its Medieval and Modern Contexts’, in Fragmentation and Redemption: Essays on Gender and the Human Body in Medieval Religion (New York: Zone Books, 1991), pp. 242, 247–297. Heathfield, ‘Durational Aesthetics’, p. 142, describes the aesthetics of duration as an ‘entanglement’ and a ‘perturbance’ which ‘question notions and senses of passage, succession and continuity’.
[76] Drimmer, ‘Beyond Private Matter’, p. 100–103; Edsall, ‘Arma Christi Rolls’, pp. 199–205. See Kelly, The Exultet, Table 13, p. 175; Exultet rolls range in width from 20 cm to 47.5 cm, but most illuminated rolls from southern Italy are between 27 cm and 33 cm.
[77] Kelly, The Exultet, pp. 16–17.
[78] However, see Drimmer, ‘Beyond Private Matter’, pp. 113–118, on larger-scale prayer rolls and collective viewing.
[79] Dufour, Les Rouleaux, p. 135; Edsall, ‘Arma Christi Rolls’, pp. 196–204.
[80] Melanie Holcomb, ‘The Compendium of History through the Genealogy of Christ by Peter of Poitiers’, in Melanie Holcomb (ed.), Pen and Parchment: Drawing in the Middle Ages (New Haven and London, Yale University Press, 2009), cat. 31, p. 116 notes contemporary scholars’ departure from the ‘classroom wall’ display view proposed by J. Lebeuf, Dissertation sur l’histoire ecclésiastique et civile de Paris (Paris: Lambert et Durand, 1741), vol. 2, p. 133 and cited and discussed in Monroe, ‘Thirteenth- and Early Fourteenth-century’, pp. 39–47; Robinson, ‘The Format of Books’, p. 44. On the potential display of a prayer roll in pageant celebrations such as an entry ceremony, see Drimmer, ‘Beyond Private Matter’, pp. 113–118.
[81] See for example the double register featuring a Trinity and bishop in membrane 1 of the prayer roll of Henry VIII (British Library, Additional 88929), in McKendrick, Royal Manuscripts, catalogue entry 44, pp. 186–187.
[82] Holcomb, ‘The Compendium’, p. 116. It is accepted that genealogical rolls were publicly displayed, but in other ways.
[83] See Robinson, ‘The Format of Books’, pp. 44–45 and Edsall, ‘Arma Christi Rolls’, pp. 180–182.
[84] See Hans Belting, Likeness and Presence: A History of the Image before the Era of Art, trans. Edmund Jephcott (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1994), p. 257. See especially Brine, Pious Memories, pp. 132–177.
[85] Kelly, The Exultet, p. 15 and p. 29; Clanchy, From Memory, pp. 156–157. On objects in treasuries, see also Erik Inglis, ‘Expertise, Artifacts, and Time in the 1534 Inventory of the Saint-Denis Treasury’, Art Bulletin 98 (2016): pp.14–42.
[86] P. A. Mariaux, ‘Collecting (and Display)’, in C. Rudolph (ed.), A Companion to Medieval Art: Romanesque and Gothic in Northern Europe (Oxford: Blackwell, 2006), pp. 222–223; Jeffrey F. Hamburger, ‘Body vs. Book: The Trope of Visibility in Images of Christian-Jewish Polemic’, in David Ganz, Thomas Lentes and Georg Henkel (eds), Ästhetik des Unsichtbaren: Bildtheorie und Bildgebrauch in der VormoderneKultbild: Visualität und Religion in der Vormoderne, vol. 1 (Berlin: Reimer, 2004), pp. 113–145; Jeffrey Hamburger, ‘Speculations on Speculation: Vision and Perception in the Theory and Practice of Mystical Devotion’ in Walter Haug and Wolfram Schneider-Lastin (eds), Deutsche Mystik im abendländischen Zusammenhang (Tübingen: Niemeyer, 2000), pp. 353–408. See also Julian Luxford, ‘English Medieval Tombs as Forensic Evidence’, Church Monuments 24 (2009): pp. 7–25.
[87] Kessler, Seeing Medieval Art, p. 19; Bynum, Christian Materiality, pp. 53–62.
[88] Bynum, Christian Materiality, pp. 268-273, notes the increasingly paradoxical ‘simultaneous embracing and rejecting of material religiosity’ in northern European attitudes toward material devotional objects from 1300 to 1500.
[89] Barbara G. Lane, ‘Requiem aeternam dona eis: The Beaune Last Judgment and the Mass of the Dead’, Simiolus: Netherlands Quarterly for the History of Art, 19:3 (1989); Bynum, Christian Materiality, pp. 105–112.
[90] Madeleine Caviness, Reframing Medieval Art: Difference, Margins, Boundaries (Tufts University electronic book, 2001), accessed 15 May 2016, http://dca.lib.tufts.edu/Caviness/; Mittman and Kim, ‘Locating’, pp. 21-2; Hamburger, ‘Body vs. Book’; Paul Binski, Gothic Wonder: Art Artifice and the Decorated Style 1290-1350 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2014), pp. 180–181.

DOI: 10.33999/2019.08