Contemplation and Action: The Other Monasticism

Article excerpt

GILCHRIST, ROBERTA. Contemplation and Action: The Other Monasticism. [The Archaeology of Medieval Britain.] (London and New York: Leicester University Press. 1995. Pp. xv, 250. $55.00;S5.00.) The title of this book is misleading on two counts. This book is not really about contemplative vocations. Rather, Dr. Gilchrist is an archaeologist and her book is the fifth in a series designed to provide up-to-date surveys of archaeological evidence for specific aspects of Britain in the Middle Ages. This volume documents the archaeology of sites of what she calls the other monasticism," specifically hospitals, the Military Orders (Templars, Hospitallers, etc.), nunneries, hermitages, and anchorholds. Noting that the major male monastic establishments have been given the weight of most general as well as archaeological interest, Gilchrist's main purpose is to examine the material culture of these other (implicitly lesser) religious vocations. Whether, in fact, they should be so blithely subsumed under the category of monasticism is questionable and is the second misleading point. …