The URSS project for 2013 was run in conjunction with the Corpus of Romanesque Sculpture in Britain and Ireland, CRSBI, and had a field-work element, followed by a desk-based section. CRSBI is a major web-based project that is cataloguing all the 11th and 12th-century sculpture in Britain and Ireland, and making it available to everyone who wishes to use it. County by county, churches and cathedrals are being visited and their Romanesque sculpture recorded, and the results put up on the website, to construct a full, and authoritative resource for future research.
Check the CRSBI website to find out more about the whole project, www.crsbi.ac.uk
Our contribution was to record the most significant sites in the county of Leicestershire, and prepare the entries for the website. The rest of the project will involve helping edit records from other counties and uploading the information into the website. The fieldwork element took 8 days in total and the desk-based work was spread over the rest of the time.
Team Members, from left to right: Biba Gonzalez (map reader and church finder), Katharine Waldron (artist and photographer), Jess Mansfield (lighting and measuring), Jenny Alexander (driver and photographer), Stella Fox (Disto measurer).
We visited nearly 60 churches over eight days in August and found about 50 that had material relevent to the Corpus. These ranged from single panels of sculpture, to ornate fonts of varying quality, carved doorways and the occasional corbel table. By far the most complex site was the church of St Mary de Castro in Leicester which had a tremendous number of carved capitals, some embedded in later masonry, and a beautiful carved set of sedilia in the chancel (pictured above). We covered nearly 1000 miles on country roads, mostly avoiding combine harvesters, and were greeted at churches by churchwardens and other local people who were unfailingly helpful and sometimes even gave us tea and cakes.
Cartoon by Katharine Waldron shows our work!