Job title: Leverhulme Early Career Fellow, History of Art


Office address: Room 1.012, The Fire Station

Contact time: Thursday, 3:30pm - 4:30pm

Research outputs: Dr Lizzie Swarbrick on Edinburgh Research Explorer

Lizzie Swarbrick's work focusses on high and late medieval Scotland, and explores a variety of media related to the pre-Reformation church, including architecture, sculpture, furnishings, tombs, paintings, music, and liturgical performances. She joined the department in Autumn 2017 as an Early Career Fellow funded by the Leverhulme Trust to work on a three-year project about Roslin church (alternatively Rosslyn Chapel). 

She was recently awarded her PhD at the University of St Andrews for a thesis entitled 'The Medieval Art and Architecture of Scottish Collegiate Churches' supervised by Prof. Richard Fawcett and Dr Julian Luxford. Lizzie’s doctoral work examined the material culture of Scotland's forty-nine colleges, between 1250 and 1560. This was funded by the AHRC (as part of the Corpus of Scottish Medieval Parish Churches project) and an Ochs Scholarship awarded by the British Archaeological Association.

She has presented widely on her work and has contributed an article, ‘The Patronage of the Collegiate Church at Cullen’, to the British Archaeological Association volume on Medieval Art, Architecture, and Archaeology in the Dioceses of Aberdeen and Moray (2016, edited by Prof. Jane Geddes). She has a forthcoming book chapter co-authored with Prof. Richard Fawcett on Scottish collegiate church buildings and is working her PhD thesis up into a monograph.

Before her PhD, Lizzie undertook both her undergraduate and masters degrees at the Courtauld Institute of Art. The latter was funded by the AHRC and specialised on Gothic cathedrals under the supervision of Prof. Paul Crossley. Her MA dissertation on the marginal sculptures at Heckington church won the Berger Foundation prize for the best dissertation on a topic of British art from any period.

Lizzie Swarbrick's current research project centres on the art and architecture of the 15th century church of St Matthew in Roslin, Midlothian. Roslin (alternatively Rosslyn) has long intrigued visitors, and its place within the popular imagination of medieval Scotland has only increased in recent years due to appearances in fiction and film. However, despite its fame, this important medieval building has not previously been the subject of a sustained scholarly work. Yet Roslin remains an extraordinarily rich building for study, comprising a great deal of the figural sculpture to have survived from late medieval Scotland within an unusual, ambitious, and imposing building. 

Roslin has long been seen as supremely idiosyncratic, but Lizzie's work connects the building's material culture with the wider cultural context of late medieval Scotland, Britain, and Europe. More specifically, her work on Roslin sheds light on issues surrounding the church's institutional history, its patronal involvement, audience, access, and the liturgical and musical performances it once housed. This focus on the working life of the church stems from Lizzie’s interest in the devotional and practical functions of medieval architecture, objects, and imagery. A public programme will run alongside her project on Roslin, beginning in 2018.

More broadly, Lizzie’s research interests include Gothic architecture, church furnishings, ecclesiastical ornaments and textiles, late medieval sculpture and painting, monumental marginalia, tombs, commemoration, medieval liturgy, pre-Reformation Scottish music, performance, Scottish history, and nationalisms.