Funded by a Leverhulme Trust Project Grant
A quick glance through the lists of the thousands of places named after saints, or at a distribution map densely crowded with evidence of devotion, reveals the widespread commitment to saints over time, and the depth of feeling across society: saints are found in minor features in the landscape – offshore rocks, insubstantial hills - and at magnificent churches, former centres of power.
The cult of saints is complex and fascinating phenomenon. At a distance of several hundred years, it is difficult to unravel: the identity of a saint is frequently forgotten, or reinvented, it is rarely clear when a commemoration – if that is what it is – dates to, and evidence which might tell us for how long a commemoration is reflective of live cult rather than dim memory of devotion in the past is often absent.
A considerable chunk of time, in this project, has been spent working out how to organise this problematic evidence: how to structure the data, how to make it consistent with other data collected previously, and what rules to apply in data entry when confronted with the very many moments of doubt.
Thus it is that you, the user, will find your navigation through this site easier if you spend some time acquainting yourself with the principles we have established. There are other ways in which the data could have been organised, and it is far from certain that the methods we have chosen are the best. But to make the most of it, whatever its shortcomings, you are strongly advised to read the user notes, starting with the quick guide.