Introduction: The Self in Social History

  • David Gary Shaw
Part of the The New Middle Ages book series (TNMA)


In March 1850, a hole five feet deep and ten feet wide was opened in the south aisle of the Cathedral Church of St. Andrew, Wells. It was found, like most historical ventures, to be in a “very dry state.” “It contained one skeleton only, and a few handfuls of dark mould. ….What remained of the bones was of a dark chocolate colour.”1 Such were the remains of Thomas Beckyngton, eminent historical object, former secretary to Henry VI, and bishop of Bath and Wells. What most impressed the nineteenth-century physician who presided at the disinterment was the skull, which he evaluated with the science of comparative phrenology in mind. Beckyngton had “good frontal development,” and good occipital development for that matter: the cranial circumference a solid twenty-two and one-eighth inches at the ear. Inevitably, we give our times and ourselves away.


Social Life Social History Dispute Settlement Dispute Settlement Process Medieval Town 
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© David Gary Shaw 2005

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  • David Gary Shaw

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