A new research project: The Cult of Saints in Wales aims to study and publish a neglected series of Medieval Welsh-language sources and their transmission.
Recently the University of Wales Centre for Advanced Welsh and Celtic Studies received AHRC a huge grant – £774,582 – for a joint research project. The grant will support a 4-year research project taking place at CAWCS, in collaboration with King’s College London, the University of Wales: Trinity Saint David (UW:TSD) and the National Library of Wales. The research will focus on medieval Welsh-language literature devoted to the veneration of saints.
Speaking about receiving the grant, Professor Dafydd Johnston, Director of CAWCS, said: “There is fierce competition for Research Council funding, and the Centre’s success in gaining a grant of this magnitude demonstrates its strong international reputation and outstanding track-record in running collaborative research projects. The funding will enable us to make a substantial contribution to the understanding of Wales’s cultural heritage.”
Saints, holy men and women who offered believers a direct link between heaven and earth, were central to the culture of Christian societies in pre-Reformation Europe and beyond, and study of the origins, nature and development of saints’ cults is flourishing internationally. The Welsh sources, however, are at best partially known – some texts have never been edited, others languish in inaccessible publications, and many are available only to Welsh-speakers. The research project therefore aims to raise awareness of the interest and importance of these Welsh sources both inside and outside Wales by producing a freely available online digital resource for both the general public, and for comparative study.
Led by Principal Investigator (Project Leader) Dr David Parsons at CAWCS , with Co-Investigators Dr Barry Lewis (CAWCS) and Dr Jane Cartwright (UW:TSD) , this digital resource will take the form of a number of online editions of the gathered texts, with extensive bilingual notes and full translations into English (and also, in the case of the verse, into modern Welsh). There will be digital images of many of the manuscripts and separate discussions of the more important codices.
Dr David Parsons says of the collaborative project: “The work builds on the Centre’s extensive experience in editing medieval Welsh texts, and recent successful digital editions. Jane Cartwright, at UW:TSD, brings great expertise in the prose Saints’ lives, while the research and development work provided by King’s College London and the National Library of Wales will ensure a professional and effective presentation. One of the most exciting aspects of the project is that Saints’ cults in Wales tend to be local or regional phenomena, and there will be many opportunities to engage, not only with academic researchers, but also with local audiences, such as local historians or school and church groups.”
The Department of Digital Humanities at King’s College London, led by Co-Investigator Miguel Vieira, will be responsible for creating the digital platform for the online editions. Speaking about their involvement in the project, he says: “This project provides us with an exciting opportunity to extend our sophisticated digital editing and publishing platform. Developed over ten years by the Department of Digital Humanities, Kiln is an Open Source and standards-compliant tool. It has been used to create more than fifty online digital editions, each based on very different source materials and demanding customised functionality. In addition to contributing to an innovative online resource for this project, our aim is also to provide the National Library Wales with a framework for developing further sustainable digital publications in the future, whilst making Kiln more accessible for anyone to use.”
The National Library of Wales involvement with the project will not only be to provide digitised images of original manuscripts, but it will also host the online edition on their website. It is envisaged that the website will hold a range of related material (such as medieval and modern images of the saints and maps that show dedications and place-name patterns) designed to be of interest to a wide range of audiences.
The work will be further advertised by a programme of conferences, open days around the country and an exhibition at the National Library of Wales.
READ OR SEE MORE:
Video at BBC with interview med Prof. Dafydd Johnston, the director of the University of Wales Centre for Advanced Welsh and Celtic Studies. Prof. Johnston is author of The Literature of Wales (University of Wales Press 1999) and a contributor to the handbook: The Celts: History, Life, and Culture Edited by John T. Koch, Antone Minard. ABC-CLIO, 2012, 898 pages