Skip to main content

Unit information: Castle and Church in 2018/19

Please note: It is possible that the information shown for future academic years may change due to developments in the relevant academic field. Optional unit availability varies depending on both staffing and student choice.

Unit name Castle and Church
Unit code ARCH30037
Credit points 20
Level of study H/6
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Dr. Prior
Open unit status Not open




School/department Department of Archaeology and Anthropology
Faculty Faculty of Arts


This specialised unit focuses on the archaeology of the two power brokers of medieval and early modern society - seignorial and ecclesiastical power. The unit will examine the archaeology and history of castle and church and will contrast the buildings, landscapes, and wider impact on society such as urbanism, trade, warfare, conflict and patronage. The unit will provide a chronological overview from the Saxon period to the 17th century and will adopt a variety of functional and theoretical perspectives. The unit will consider the impact of castle and church upon society, interaction and use, and the continuing agency and legacy of these buildings. The unit aims to provide a detailed knowledge and appreciation the most significant buildings in the medieval world.

Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of this unit students will be able to demonstrate

1. the ability to recognise and use terminology in their discussion of castles and monastic sites appropriate to level H
2. a critical understanding of the elements of medieval and early modern historical narratives and how this relates to church and castle
3. a critical understanding of landscape a archaeology as it relates to castles, churches and monasteries
4. an assessment of the contribution archaeology, architectural studies, landscape studies, historical studies, topographic, geophysical & standing building surveys have made to our understanding of castles, churches and monasteries
5. a critical awareness of the key problems and limitations of using archaeological evidence to interpret and understand historical evidence
6. a critical awareness and understanding of the complexities and limitations of the archaeological record as an analytical tool
7. the ability to evaluate critically evidence from a wide range of sources, both historical and archaeological
8. the ability to recognise and articulate the role castles and churches play in terms of the notion of heritage assets.

Teaching details

Weekly 2hr Lecture, and 1hr seminar

One 6hr (all day) fieldtrip

Assessment Details


  • Essay on a Castle theme 3000 words (50%) (ILOs: 1-8);
  • Essay on a Church theme 3000 words (50%) (ILOs, 1-8)


  • Each student will prepare 2 seminars, one on a castle and one on a church, to be presented to the class, which will form the basis of their essays (ILOs, 1-8)

Reading and References

Blair, J., 2005. The Church in Anglo Saxon Society. Oxford: Oxford Uni. Press.

Coulson, C., 2003, Castles in Medieval Society: Fortresses in England, France and Ireland in the Central Middle Ages. Oxford: Oxford Uni. Press.

Creighton, O.H., 2004, Castles and Landscapes: Power, Community and Fortification in Medieval England. Equinox.

Higham, R. & Barker, P., 2012, Timber Castles. Liverpool: Liverpool University Press.

Liddiard, R. (ed.), 2003, Anglo-Norman Castles. Woodbridge: Boydell.

Pounds, N.J.G., 1990, The Medieval Castle in England and Wales: A Social and Political History. Cambridge: Cambridge Uni. Press.

Morris, R. 1989. Churches in the Landscape. London: Dent.

Prior, S.J., 2006. A Few Well-Positioned Castles: the Norman art of war. Stroud: Tempus.

Rodwell, W. 1989. Church Archaeology. London: Batsford.