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Register of MBS members' interests and queries

On this page MBS members can insert notices bringing their research interests to the attention of others who might have a similar interest, or asking for information and assistance on a particular aspect of the study of brasses and incised slabs or related monuments. Entries will be left on the website for a period of one year only (though at the end of the year members may update or renew their entry).

Please remember, unpublished research is wasted research, so share your findings with other members in a more permanent format, either through the Transactions or Bulletin.

If you would like to register your interests please send details to

Entries on register

Click below to go straight to a specific topic:

    Medieval inscriptions

    Tombs to children

    Danse macabre iconography

    Chalice brasses


Sophie Oosterwijk (entry September 2004)

Many MBS and CMS members may associate me first and foremost with chrysom effigies after my article in Church Monuments vol. XV, yet this is not my main area of research. My first degree was in English, which may explain my use of literary sources in my work. My MA dissertation on the presentation of children in Middle-English romances (University of Leiden, 1986) formed the basis of that particular line of research. After another MA course in Medieval Studies at the University of York, where I studied late twelfth-century figure sculpture in Yorkshire, I moved on to a PhD in Art History at the University of Leicester with a thesis on the representation of the infant in medieval culture in north-western Europe.

 However, I am not solely preoccupied with medieval children. My main interest is iconographical, and my publications to date range in subject matter from fourteenth-century label-stops in the nave of York Minster to the study of the medieval mystery plays from an art-historical perspective. Tomb monuments remain a major source of interest to me, esp. medieval child and miniature effigies (not necessarily the same thing!), although I am always keen to find memorials to children from later periods also as well.  

My most recent line of research focusses on the danse macabre in north-western Europe. Particularly relevant in an MBS context are the examples of danse macabre iconography on late-medieval and early modern tomb monuments, such as the figure of Death on John Rudyng's brass at Biggleswade (Beds) with the accompanying dialogue between Death and the viewer, or the brass of James Gray at Hunsdon (Herts). Death occurs quite frequently on post-Reformation monuments as the allegorical companion of Father Time, but it is the occurrence of Death in a more aggressive role that particularly interests me. An initial paper was published in the proceedings of the 11e Congres International d'etudes sur les Danses macabres et l'art macabre en general (Meslay-le-Grenet, 2003), and I hope to finish a more extensive version for publication in the near future. I would be very glad to hear about further examples of Death on tomb monuments in Britain or abroad.

Dr Sophie Oosterwijk FSA e-mail:

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Janet Whitham and Jane Houghton (entry February 2005)

We began our extensive study of chalice brasses and indents under the impression that they would form a short research project, which would fit neatly onto sheets of A4 paper, well five box files of information and illustrations later, many rubbings, rolls of film and umpteen bytes of digital data and images …our study is an on-going project which looks like continuing for some time yet. Individual examples of chalices on monumental brasses may be known to readers but comprehensive studies of this form of memorial have rarely been undertaken, apart from lists of chalice memorials by Rev. C.L.S. Linnell M.A. which appeared in our Transactions many years ago, and as part of the comprehensive notebooks amassed by the late J. Roger Greenwood, donated to the MBS, which included rubbings and sketches of chalice brasses and indents amongst its contents.

Indents of many lost chalice brasses survive in many East Anglian Churches. Since we began search for chalice brasses and indents several examples have now been hidden from view including the brass at Aldbourne  Wilts, under a new floor, and chalice indent at Reedham, Norfolk now under a new tower floor, and indents at St. Michael Coslany, Norwich, now permanently covered and four indents at Fressingfield, Suffolk now under a sea of blue fitted carpet. Other indents are under threat from creeping fitted carpets and re-ordering schemes, and as more churches are under threat of redundancy, indents may continue to disappear from view.

We have created a database list of chalice brasses and indents, both extant and lost and are in the process of compiling a collection of rubbings of brasses and indents and a database of digital images of direct photographs, rubbings and antiquarian notes of surviving and lost examples. Any help would be greatly appreciated, particularly in obtaining images of brasses and indents now covered and further details of lost examples.

Janet Whitham: email

Jane Houghton email

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David Griffith (entry dated August 2006)

My current research project looks at the nature and function of vernacular texts in non-manuscript contexts in the later medieval period in England (to be published with Brepols in 2007/08). The book examines inscriptions from religious and secular environments, extant and lost, and is based on field work and close examination of scholarly and antiquarian studies. There are a number of aspects of monumental brasses and incised slabs on which I would welcome examples or guidance from fellow members:

* I have a handful of inscriptions which point to the existence of communities (or individuals) not using Latin, English, French, or Anglo-Norman (e.g. the early C16 slab with Dutch text at Haddiscoe in Norfolk, and the C15 Flemish slab at Playdon, Sussex). I would welcome further examples including those known only from antiquarian sources.

* I am examining dialectal and linguistic features of inscriptions in light of what is known about regional centres of production for brasses and slabs and would be pleased to hear from anyone working in this area or anyone who has examples.

* I would be particularly interested to learn about inscriptions (in the vernacular languages and in Latin) which refer to books and book ownership.

* An important aspect of the study is the use of inscriptional materials by members of what might be called the lower social orders. I would be interested to hear of inscriptions comparable to the Smith brass at Brightwell Baldwin.

* Finally, I am collecting inscriptions from obit brasses such as that found on the reverse of the palimpsest at Shipton-under-Wychwood. Any further examples would be gratefully received.

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Page last updated 09 September 2016