Church Monuments Society


Interpreting Medieval Effigies: The Evidence from Yorkshire to 1400

By CMS in Recent publications

Interpreting Medieval Effigies: The Evidence from Yorkshire to 1400 by Brian & Moira Gittos is being made available for the first time in paperback.  It was originally published in 2019 and sets out the results of  research dating back more than 40 years.  It uses the Yorkshire corpus of sculptured effigies as the basis for a wide-ranging, investigative discussion, examining and analysing the wealth of evidence they provide. The effigies’ form, function and meaning are considered alongside their context and post-Reformation treatment.  Stylistic analysis is used to explore how the effigies relate to one another and to form an appreciation of the sculptors’ intentions.  The study sheds light on aspects such as personal aspiration, social networks, patterns of supply and production, piety and wealth.  More than 200 examples survive, constituting some 10% of the national total, so that the scale and scope of the Yorkshire material provides valid insights for the interpretation of medieval effigies countrywide.

The publisher, Oxbow Books, is reissuing the book in paperback in July and is currently running a 20% pre-publication promotion, bringing the price down to only £28.00.  As with the original hardback edition, purchasers can download the 200+ pages of Appendices which include a fully illustrated catalogue of the 231 figures involved, each newly reappraised.  The book is lavishly illustrated, as befitting such a visual subject, with the total number of images (including the Appendices) in excess of 600, just over half of which are in colour.  Professor Nigel Saul wrote in his review (Church Monuments, XXIV, 2019, 196-201), ‘ To sum up, this is a rich and rewarding book which uses close observational study to shed new light on the construction, decoration, and interpretation of Yorkshire’s collection of pre-fifteenth-century effigial monuments.’ He concluded: ‘This is a landmark book, and no-one with any interest in English medieval monuments can afford to ignore it.’

The pre-publication offer is available at

Some examples of illustrations from the book

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