Welcome to Medieval Animals Heritage

Skin and Bone, Wood and Stone

Call for Papers for Academic Conference, Thursday 29 June – Saturday 1 July 2023, Old Sessions House, Canterbury Christ Church University

The NLHF Medieval Animals Heritage Conference invites abstracts for 20-minute academic papers that explore aspects of research on the theme of medieval and early modern animal studies, green heritage, sustainability, and wellbeing engagement. Medieval animals traditionally are linked to St Francis, but this conference also discusses how books of beasts were used by St Anselm and his kinsman Honorius to connect spirituality to people’s emotions in what became an important local and international heritage.

Anselm told parables about the soaring Eagle, the shy Little Owl, the frightened Hare, and the beautiful Pearl of the oyster while Honorius drew on the early bestiary to create stories to be carved and painted in churches – such as the Lion breathing life into his stillborn cubs as a figure for hope. The NLHF Medieval Animals Heritage Project has used these ideas to promote SEND and community engagement in green heritage.

Proposals for papers may include, but are not limited to:

  • Medieval and early modern animality and animal studies
  • Medieval and early modern animal fables, macers, bestiaries, and De Avibus
  • Scholarship on medieval treatises, sermons and parables concerning animals
  • Folklore, magic, and ritual involving medieval and/or early modern animals
  • Modern medievalism, postcolonialism, and antiracist scholarship linked to animals
  • Medieval and early modern animal art and material culture, e.g., parchment and illuminations, bone carvings, and curated collections
  • Non-European medieval animal studies
  • Engagement with medieval animal heritage themes, digital animalities, activism, restoration, and craft
  • Learning and teaching (including SEND activities) involving medieval animal themes
  • Medieval and early modern environmental issues, green heritage, and biodiversity
  • As well as a call for papers, the Skin and Bone, Wood and Stone Conference is looking for creative contributions.


There will be a gallery exhibition space as part of the conference, and we are keen to exhibit creative responses to the theme of Medieval Animals Heritage. Please get in touch with any questions.

This free and exciting conference will include a tour of Rochester Cathedral and its Textus 900 Exhibition, a wine reception, thanks to the generosity of University of Wales Press Medieval Animals series, and will finish with the Medieval Animal Heritage themed Canterbury Medieval Pageant and Family Trail. Please send a title, a suitable image for the programme, and a 150-word abstract, plus your contact details and a brief CV to: Dr Diane Heath at diane.heath@canterbury.ac.uk by 25th March 2023, thank you.