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Alison Bazley


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MA in Medieval Studies, Royal Holloway, University of London

BA in History of Art and Architecture, University of Reading


For my postgraduate research thesis I will undertake a study of medieval mirrors which will seek to develop further the dissertation research I undertook for my MA in Medieval Studies at Royal Holloway (completed 2015).  My MA thesis focused in particular on the collection of metal mirror-cases held at the Museum of London and examined and catalogued them as medieval artefacts; I also began an exploration into their wider cultural significance.  As physical objects, mirror-cases (such as those in the Museum of London collections) have received little scholarly attention.  This study will seek to understand more about the ways in which such objects were perceived, used, written about and depicted.  An interdisciplinary approach will be taken.  Evidence will be explored not only in the artefacts themselves (in museum collections and as metal-detected finds catalogued in the Portable Antiquities Scheme database) but also in contemporary literature, documents (such as wills and inventories) and manuscript illuminations.  A typology of designs will be considered, as will archaeological and historical contexts. Assumptions regarding mirror use will be tested and challenged: for example, were mirrors mainly used in the context of beauty? Is there any credibility to suggestions that they had power as amulets or other apotropaic functions?  The study will also seek to ascertain how the mirror-cases were manufactured and traded and explore potential trade links with the Low Countries.

This is an important field of research which will expand our knowledge not only of medieval mirrors as objects in themselves but also their wider cultural significance.


Information Datasheet:

'Medieval base metal mirror-cases at the Museum of London', Finds Research Group AD700-1700, Datasheet 51 (2019)