1.0 Introduction

The Reformation was a time of great fomentation throughout Europe, as theologians struggled to redefine faith, worship and the Church itself (e.g. Calvin 1975 [1536]). It is only in recent years, however, that historical and theological scholarship has begun to explore reform as a contested process, rather than a logical 'evolutionary' step (Matheson 2000; Hazlett 2003; Duffy 2005). For this reason, the role of discipline, a key aspect in establishing reform, has to date been considered only for its social function and long-term intended consequences (e.g. Graham 1996; Lualdi and Thayer 2000; Todd 2002). To date, the adage that discipline artefacts — sackcloth, jougs, branks and repentance stools — were shaming has been considered explanation enough for Scotland's strict discipline practices (Graham 1996; Lualdi and Thayer 2000; Todd 2002). However, this is an explanation only if it is understood why that material had the power to shame and how shame drove reform. Relying on 'shaming' as purely functional, rather than an embodied experience mediated through meaningful material culture, has resulted in the artefacts' ecclesiastical origins being overshadowed by their utility in those few studies undertaken (Hartwig 1982; Boose 1991; Graham 1996; Harrison 1998; Johnston 1999; Todd 2002). Investigating this hitherto almost unexplored body of disciplinary material culture in order to understand why it developed in an ecclesiastical setting and how it was experienced provides a window into a new understanding of the success of the Scottish Reformation, challenging established opinion of reform as an exclusively intellectual learning process (Fig. 1).

Figure 1

Figure 1: Artefacts of early reformed discipline. Top left: branks (Dunnotar, Aberdeenshire, C1) - worn upon head with protrusion inserted into mouth. Top right: author in sackcloth (St Andrews, Fife, A2). Bottom left: repentance stool (Cumbernauld, Lanarkshire, Bs). Bottom right: jougs (Dowally, Perthshire, D6) worn around neck.

Todd (2002) undertakes a very useful consideration of the function of what she refers to throughout as the 'ritual performance' of church discipline. The concept of discipline as a performance holds great promise. However, it cannot be fully realised without material culture theory. 'Props', 'performer' and 'set', particularly in a performance saturated with such diverse and powerful narratives as those of protracted religious upheaval, consist not only of evident physical properties but also changing, variably employed, non-evident properties and layers of hidden meanings (Pearson and Shanks 2001, 56; Inomata and Coben 2006a). It is demonstrated here that, far from neutral objects, discipline artefacts were part of an incomplete schematic assemblage incorporating church architecture, the Bible and the human body, the interpretation of which required culture-specific knowledge and bodily experience (Keane 2006; Tilley 2006). It is, therefore, argued that without identifying the interactions between audiences, actors and their props and sets, the performance can never be understood.

With extant material until now un-catalogued, studies to date have inevitably fallen back upon the writings of three antiquarians Bushfield (1855-62), Jewitt (1860-1) and Andrews (1881). In doing so, scholars perpetuate a culture in which words are seen as more meaningful routes to knowledge than experience. Established tradition is that this Modern mindset emerged with the Reformation as a dramatic shift towards a religion of 'seeing and hearing', the individual mind and cognitive understanding, and away from the other senses, outward devotion, body and community (Mellor and Shilling 1997; Hazlett 2003, 157). With this has come a narrowing of the possibilities for incorporating the body and senses and their interactions with the interior, outwardly illogical worlds of imagination, emotion and religion, into our understandings of the past. Even where archaeologists themselves engage with such worlds, traditional discourse perpetuates the separation of mind and body: while facts are related, the experiences are 'lost' in translation. One of the aims of this experiment is to begin to identify modes of translation by entering into a dialogue with participants which allow for debate as to how this separation might be overcome.

In this experimental and multidisciplinary attempt to translate the experience of discipline in the early Kirk, this project incorporates mixed representation such as collage-making and storytelling, exploring the potential for creative archaeology to facilitate the translation and communication of human experiences. The aim is to translate both experiences from the past (subject) and experiences of engagement with the past (archaeological and interpretative process) by facilitating participant-audience interpretation.


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