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Life on the Edge
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Life on the Edge (Paperback)

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The small Cistercian abbey at Balmerino on the southern shore of the Firth of Tay in north Fife has long languished in relative obscurity, consigned to a supporting role in Scottish monastic studies with dismissive comments based on the fragmentary nature of its physical and documentary history. Current research has demonstrated how wrong this interpretation is, for a monastery is not just the cluster of buildings enclosed within the monastic precinct; it is also the community - religious and lay - who inhabited it, the complex of lands, rights and privileges assembled to sustain that community, and the interaction with notables and neighbours whose influence helped shape its history. These chapters present a diametrically opposed view of the significance of the surviving record and its value as a source of evidence for the social, economic and environmental history of Balmerino Abbey specifically and the wider region more generally.

The papers are: Introduction to Current Research, Richard Oram; Queen Ermengarde and the Abbey of St Edward, Balmerino, Matthew Hammond; Cistercians on the East Coast of Fife, Julie Kerr; A Fit and Ample Endowment? The Balmerino Estate 1228-1603, Richard Oram; The Architecture, Richard Fawcett; Reading the Place-names of a Monastic landscape, Gilbert Markus; Resurvey of the Abbey and Topographic Analysis, Piers Dixon. This collection of papers on Balmerino Abbey is published as an issue of Citeaux Commentarii Cistercienses.

JULIE KERR is Honorary Research Fellow in the School of History, University of St Andrews.

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