Personal profile

Research interests

I work within and between the disciplines of History and History of Art, specialising in visual and material culture. My research interests lie in medieval perceptions of place, with particular reference to Italy and its relationships with the wider Mediterranean region and transalpine Europe.

My previous research primarily focused on sacred space, especially the creation, use, and decoration of holy ground. My book Standing on Holy Ground in the Middle Ages (Cornell University Press / Combined Academic Publishers) examines themes such as the phenomenon of holy footprints, the liturgical shaping of consecrated space, and the design and function of ecclesiastical floor decoration. I have a related interest in medieval cartography and co-edited with Dr Hanna Vorholt (University of York) a volume of essays on maps of Jerusalem: Imagining Jerusalem in the Medieval West. I have also published on the representation of subterranean environments in religious art from regions specialising in mining and have been involved in collaborative research on cultural responses to seismic activity. 

My current research explores the materiality and portability of place as this was exemplified by the symbolic movement of soil. The main project explores spiritual, political, and environmental connotations of moving earth to and from the city of Rome during the Middle Ages and early modern period. I am also interested in understandings of soil and the environment within the medieval Islamic world and in modern uses of earth in contexts of commemoration and migration.

I am a member of the University of Bristol Centre for Medieval Studies, the Centre for Environmental Humanities, and Migration Mobilities Bristol.


Research Supervision

Lucy Donkin is currently supervising an MPhil project on the Hereford World Map. She welcomes enquiries from students wishing to pursue research on the visual, religious, or urban culture of medieval Italy, or to investigate medieval attitudes to sanctity, materiality, or landscape more generally.


My research interests inform my teaching for the History and History of Art departments. I contribute to a number of team-taught units including Episodes in Global Visual Culture, The Medieval World, Crusading Cultures, and Wild Things. I teach History of Art units on Artistic Exchange in the Mediterranean and Vision, and a History unit on Travel and Trade in the Global Middle Ages. I also co-teach an interdisciplinary unit on The Italian City with colleagues from History of Art and the Department of Italian.

Office: B.35, 9 Woodland Road

Telephone: 0117 92 87408

Email: [email protected]


Structured keywords and research groupings

  • Centre for Medieval Studies


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