The Dynamics of Pilgrimage Christianity, Holy Places, and Sensory Experience

This book offers a systematic, chronological analysis of the role played by the human senses in experiencing pilgrimage and sacred places, past and present. It thus addresses two major gaps in the existing literature, by providing a broad historical narrative against which patterns of continuity and change can be more meaningfully discussed, and focusing on the central, but curiously neglected, area of the core dynamics of pilgrim experience.

Bringing together the still-developing fields of Pilgrimage Studies and Sensory Studies in a historically framed conversation, this interdisciplinary study traces the dynamics of pilgrimage and engagement with holy places from the beginnings of the Judaeo-Christian tradition to the resurgence of interest evident in twenty-first century England. Perspectives from a wide range of disciplines, from history to neuroscience, are used to examine themes including sacred sites in the Bible and Early Church; pilgrimage and holy places in early and later medieval England; the impact of the English Reformation; revival of pilgrimage and sacred places during the nineteenth and twentieth Centuries; and the emergence of modern place-centred, popular 'spirituality'.

Addressing the resurgence of pilgrimage and its persistent link to the attachment of meaning to place, this book will be a key reference for scholars of Pilgrimage Studies, History of Religion, Religious Studies, Sensory Studies, Medieval Studies, and Early Modern Studies.

"This extraordinary book is bold, scholarly and informative.  Drawing on encyclopaedic reading and a fascinating research project, it demonstrates the power and the significance of the senses in the ways that we respond to cathedrals and similar buildings.  I cannot recommend it too highly."
Grace Davie, Professor Emeritus of Sociology, University of Exeter

"Highlighting the role of the senses, Dee Dyas has deftly drawn upon a huge range of historical and contemporary material, along with her unparalleled experience of working with English cathedrals as they engage with ever-changing visitor demographics, to produce an impressively innovative volume charting and analysing shifts in the creation of, attitudes to and engagement with Christian sacred places in England. For scholars of - and indeed anyone interested in - contemporary pilgrimage, The Dynamics of Pilgrimage is invaluable for contextualising the current popularity of and trends in pilgrimage today in broader historical, cultural, and, crucially, sensory perspective."
Dr Marion Bowman, Open University

"Dee Dyas' approach to the history of Christian sensory pilgrimage is bound to become a research and teaching staple for scholars of the Middle Ages. The study’s breadth, from Jewish Temple periods through to the present day, offers a skilled negotiation of distance and proximity wherein Dyas invites readers to understand sacred sensory experience through an historical lens.  Examples from medieval texts, art and architecture ground this work, offering a treasure trove for researchers who will appreciate Dyas' expertise in pilgrimage across the disciplines."
Professor Suzanne Yeager, Fordham University

Front-cover of publication
Full citation

Dyas, D. 2021. The Dynamics of Pilgrimage Christianity, Holy Places, and Sensory Experience. Routledge.