Ex Ecclesia: Salvific Power Beyond Sacred Space in Anglo-Saxon Charms

Ciaran Arthur

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Many of the Anglo-Saxon charms identify locations for their performance and function. Previous scholarship has used locations as evidence of continuous pre-Christian practices and this argument has impacted on how the charms are perceived. As a result, the role of the church building as one of the charms’ identified locations has not yet been properly highlighted. Rather than focusing on the potential pre-Christian associations with certain sites in the charms, it is more enlightening to look at how other locations orientate around the church building. In this article I will explore how charms use liturgical and public spaces to signify their function during the late Anglo-Saxon period. After outlining the main scholarly views of Anglo-Saxon locations that have had an impact on charm studies, my analysis will make a comparative case study of two charms against elf-sickness to open readings of the corpus of Anglo-Saxon charms. This approach reveals interesting information about the Anglo-Saxons' interaction with their landscape in the tenth and eleventh centuries and helps us to redefine the religious nature of these rituals.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)9-32
Publication statusPublished - 2013


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