Mapping Miracles: Early Medieval Hagiography and the Potential of GIS

  • Faye Taylor


Medieval history has welcomed the spatial turn, and there is an evidential and historiographical bias towards land and property issues in the field. Several significant collaborative medieval projects make use of GIS, but few individual historians have embraced GIS for early medieval research. GIS makes map-making accessible to anyone, including historians new to the technology, and facilitates the use of maps as research tools rather than simply as outputs. The interrogation of mapped data can reveal spatial patterns in narratives that were previously obscured, raising new research questions and posing new theories. GIS analysis demonstrated a geographical disparity between punitive and positive miracles for Sainte Foy’s miracle collection at Conques, confirming the socio-political outlook of the punitive miracles. At Bobbio, GIS could help solve a mystery surrounding the route taken by a procession of holy relics. If successful this could help clarify important tenth-century political and jurisdictional interactions between Bobbio and other local power brokers. Certain methodological concerns demand closer attention before the early medieval historian might fully commit to GIS. Nevertheless, the potential for revisiting medieval sources with GIS technologies offers exciting possibilities, as much for the individual historian as for larger-scale projects.


Religious Institution Medieval Period Individual Historian Spatial Landscape Early Medieval Period 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Cumberland LodgeWindsorUK

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