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Communal Solitude

The Carthusian Lay Brethren in Great Britain & Ireland, 1178-1569

Francesca Breeden
Publication Year:
108 pages
BAR number:


The Carthusians were a small monastic order founded in France in the late 11th century. Their dedication to the hermit lifestyle required a unique living situation that included individual housing for each monk, and a group of lay brothers who carried out the day-to-day tasks and interacted with the local community.This volume examines the Carthusian Order in Great Britain and Ireland from an archaeological standpoint and highlights the role of the lay brother in the everyday life of the charterhouse. Using the case studies of Witham Charterhouse and Hinton Priory in Somerset, the layouts of the lay brothers’ complexes are explored through geophysical survey and comparison with Carthusian material culture assemblages from other British charterhouses. This method of investigation provides a singular view of the lay brother in medieval society and for the first time proposes a layout of an English Carthusian lower house.

Francesca Breeden completed her PhD in Archaeology at the University of Sheffield in 2018. Since then, she has remained working at the University, supporting doctoral students in the department of Mechanical Engineering to complete their own PhDs. She continues to participate in excavations whenever possible.

‘The book is a significant contribution to the general field of monastic studies and makes a particular contribution to the study of the Carthusians. The research will certainly be of considerable interest to scholars working on medieval orders elsewhere in Europe.’ Deirdre O’Sullivan, University of Leicester

‘The approach to the subject is fresh and comprehensive making it a valuable addition to the topic of the archaeology of medieval monasticism in Great Britain and Ireland. I was very impressed by this volume which proved to be an enjoyable and informative read.’ Dr J. Patrick Greene, Standing Committee for Archaeology of the Royal Irish Academy and Heritage Council of Ireland

Introduction (B675_Breeden_9781407359755_-_intro.pdf, 307 Kb) [Download]

Table of Contents (B675_Breeden_9781407359755_-_toc.pdf, 207 Kb) [Download]