From the Camino de Santiago to English Cathedrals

Conducting Fieldwork in Sacred Spaces


  • Tiina Sepp University of Tartu



Contemporary Pilgrimage, English cathedrals, Camino de Santiago, Canterbury, Durham, Westminster, York


In this article I analyse my experiences of conducting fieldwork in four English cathedrals: Canterbury, Durham, Westminster and York. The focus will be on various challenges related to carrying out fieldwork in sacred spaces. I will also reflect on my role as a researcher and pilgrim/visitor and compare it with my previous experience of researching the Santiago pilgrimage. I explore the following: similarities and differences between conducting fieldwork on the Camino and in cathedrals; and how what I have learned in the Camino context is (or is not) transferable to the Cathedrals context. I will also reflect on how some of the practicalities of conducting fieldwork—such as the location of our workspace in the cathedral—can lead to wider understanding of several topics, for instance, what defines a sacred space, and how different sources of information interact methodologically.


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Author Biography

Tiina Sepp, University of Tartu

Tiina Sepp has an MA (Anthropology of Religion) and a PhD (Folkloristics) from the University of Tartu. Her current research of pilgrimage landscape in Estonia focuses on the “Caminoisation” of pilgrimage and representations of the Camino de Santiago. She has conducted fieldwork in England, Estonia and Spain and has published two popular books about contemporary pilgrimage. Her other research interests include vernacular religion, fieldwork methodology, and cathedrals as city spaces.


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How to Cite

Sepp, T. (2022). From the Camino de Santiago to English Cathedrals: Conducting Fieldwork in Sacred Spaces. Fieldwork in Religion, 17(2), 203–224.