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Reviving the Trinity

Reviving the Trinity

This collaborative, interdisciplinary project looks again at the Trinity Altarpiece by Hugo van der Goes, Trinity Collegiate Church, and Trinity Hospital as emblems of Scotland’s inventive and ambitious cultural milieu, and its active, outward looking engagement with Europe and beyond. The network will re-examine the Trinity, and establish its cultural relevance today. Taking innovative approaches to materialities, geographies, and the wider artistic, intellectual, and cultural networks that connect them during the reigns of James II, III and IV, and the regency of Queen Mary of Guelders, it seeks to identify contemporary networks and reassess the significance of knowledge exchange.

The Trinity Network: Who Are We?

Jill Harrison

I’m a lecturer in Art History at the Open University and the social, political and economic aspects of early Trecento Italian art was my first field of interest, especially the lost secular schemes of Giotto. More recently I have turned to the rewarding and exciting topic of fifteenth century Scottish culture, in particular The Trinity Altarpiece by Hugo van der Goes, c 1476. This spectacular work, now in the National Gallery of Scotland but originally located in the Trinity Collegiate Church remains an enigma. It has been met with ‘mild bemusement’ and ‘summary dismissal’ and as such is a researcher’s delight. I have been taking my Open University students to see the altarpiece and to visit what is left of the church, moved from Platform Two of Waverly Station to the bottom of Chalmers Close, for many years and they are consistently intrigued and surprised that these important and beautiful examples of Scottish art and architecture aren’t given the status they deserve. It has taken a little while but at last a small group of interested academics (Lizzie Swarbrick – art and architecture, Amy Hayes- history, and James Cook – early music) have come together and The Trinity Network has been formed to shed light on things Trinity related, including the Trinity Hospital which was attached to the chapel and had its own physic garden. We want to encourage others to join us for research, debate, writing and disseminating, so please get in touch, send us a paper proposal for our first symposium and share your thoughts on how we might take this forward.


Lizzie Swarbrick

I’m a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow in the School of Art History, University of Edinburgh. My current project picks apart the art and architecture of that most idiosyncratic of Scottish late medieval buildings, Rosslyn Chapel. More broadly, my interests are in the buildings and artworks associated with Scottish churches from around 1250 to the Reformation in 1560. I wrote about Trinity collegiate church, and the other 48 churches of this type in my PhD thesis ‘The Art and Architecture of Scottish Collegiate Churches’ (University of St Andrews, 2017). I take ‘art’ in the broadest sense possible and focus on the functions and meanings of everything from humble holy water stoups, to grand works of figural painting like Hugo van der Goes’ altarpiece. My approach to architecture is also one of use and experience, examining the performativity of church buildings through the interrelation of liturgy, music, furnishings, and architectural forms. Scottish medieval art is still very much underappreciated, and I’m lucky that my work regularly unearths previously unanalysed features. I’m thrilled to be involved in this project, which throws new light on a real jewel of 15th-century Scottish culture. Get in touch via twitter @LizzieSwarbrick or email


Amy Hayes

I am a historian of late medieval Scotland with a specialism in Scottish queenship from the late fourteenth century to the early sixteenth century. I offer an interdisciplinary approach to queenship studies, with interest in literary representations of queenship, as well as the practical realities of landholding, childcare and finances. My interest in the Trinity Apse stems from the involvement of Mary of Guelders in the foundation, and of the visual link to Margaret of Denmark in the Trinity Altarpiece. I work across two institutions; as a Lecturer in History at the University of the Highlands and Islands, and as a Staff Tutor in History at the Open University. I am currently working on a monograph on Scottish queenship, and you can find me on twitter at @a_v_hayes.


James Cook

I’m a lecturer in Early Music at the University of Edinburgh, where I also direct our BMus programme. I specialise in music of the 14th-16th centuries, particularly focusing on sacred music in England, Scotland, and the Low Countries. I also work on music for film, television, and especially video game – and enjoy it when these two seemingly disparate fields meet. I tend to work in a fairly interdisciplinary manner and am especially interested in the intersections between music, space, and place. This has formed the basis of projects I have led on Virtual Reality reconstruction of historical Scottish performance spaces, such as Linlithgow Palace and St Cecilia’s Hall, and a prosopography of Church Musicians in Scotland, which often centred on physical institutions. I have also frequently worked with Historic Environment Scotland on the musical contexts of the buildings in their care. My interest in the Trinity is broad, from the musical quotation in the Trinity Altarpiece, and the intensive cross-channel trade of which it is a product, to the status of the Chapel and Hospital as sites of musical activity, and their personnel as active musicians.


2 replies to “The Trinity Network: Who Are We?”

  1. lfraser7 says:

    I thoroughly enjoyed today’s Symposium and would be very keen to hear of any future events. My name and email address is Lesley Fraser, Thank you

    1. Jill Harrison says:

      Hello Lesley,
      So pleased you enjoyed the symposium and do please join us. The best way might be to sign up via Jiscmail- just click on this link:


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