Programme: Art in the Global Middle Ages

Year: 2014

In this article, we focus on Grahame Mackenzie, who graduated in 2014 with the highest distinction to date of our Art in the Global Middle Ages programme. This is Grahame’s account of his first year since leaving Edinburgh College of Art (ECA)…

Since graduating, I have been developing my research in spolia, the subject of my MSc dissertation. Spolia is the re-use of ancient architectural elements in new contexts during the middle ages; it was important to medieval society for its evocation of past imperial power and victory over paganism.

This time last year, I presented a paper on ‘spolia as holy relic’ at the International Medieval Congress in Leeds, Europe's largest annual gathering in the humanities. The paper has since been accepted for publication in a volume provisionally entitled The Papacy, Rome and Romanitas, edited by Brenda Bolton and Damian Smith, to be published by Ashgate in 2016.

In order to engage more fully with original sources and with current scholarship, I have taken courses on reading medieval Latin and on late-medieval and Renaissance Rome. Since February, I have also been taking Italian lessons. Each has been both challenging and enjoyable.

"Studying in the School of History of Art at ECA will continue to give me the privileged opportunity of working alongside and learning from academics and students, both within Edinburgh and from other universities, whose knowledge and expertise in my own and other fields will reinforce, inform and challenge my research".

Grahame Mackenzie, 2014 graduate

AHRC-funded postgraduate research

I am deeply grateful to my supervisor, Dr Claudia Bolgia, and the History of Art Postgraduate Research Director, Dr Alain George, for the huge help they have given me in successfully applying for an Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC) scholarship. Funded for the next three years, I will begin my PhD studies at ECA in September 2015.

Concentrating on medieval Rome, I will assess the importance to medieval society of spolia material - stone and marble - which has ‘become’ holy, such as the Column of the Flagellation in the church of Santa Prassede in Rome. And, within the theoretical framework of the study of cultural transmission, superstition and sanctity, I will examine the processes which over centuries have led to the medieval veneration of stone and marble as holy relic. 

Studying in the School of History of Art at ECA will continue to give me the privileged opportunity of working alongside and learning from academics and students, both within Edinburgh and from other universities, whose knowledge and expertise in my own and other fields will reinforce, inform and challenge my research.


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