Sunday, August 17, 2014


When I decided to write an historical novel on el Camino de Santiago, set in the 12th century, I didn't realise that the biggest challenge would be to find sufficient research material for that era. 

If you don't read French or Spanish it can be daunting to find enough research material in English on the pilgrimage to the tomb of St James the Greater in Spain.
It is even more challenging if you live on the east coast of South Africa, a part of the country where English settlers only arrived in the 1820's and where the libraries have very little on the medieval pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela.  One has to rely on the Internet and/or on books one can buy.  Thank heavens for the World Wide Web and for online book stores! 

Where does one start?

When I was starting my research for PILGRIM FOOTRPINTS ON THE SANDS OF TIME my creative writing teacher suggested I do research on the Doomsday book in order to find a suitable village where my main characters would come from.  I decided on the south of England and found a charming village with a wonderful website that included a lot of information on the history of their village, village life, their industries, houses, church and churchyard.  My main characters are people with the same name as a family buried in the churchyard.

For el Camino de Santiago specific research I bought the following books.

The Pilgrimage Road to Santiago - David M Gitlitz & Linda K Davidson
A Practical Guide for Pilgrims - Millán Bravo Lozano
The Pilgrim’s Guide: 12th Century Guide for the Pilgrim to St James of Compostela: translated from the Latin by James Hogarth
The Road to Santiago – Walter Starkie
The Pilgrimage to Santiago - Edwin Mullins
The Pilgrim Guide to Santiago de Compostela - Annie Shaver-Crandell and Paula Gerson
Being a Pilgrim – Art and Ritual on the Medieval Routes to Santiago – Kathleen Ashley and Marilyn Deegan
Jacobean Pilgrims from England to St James of Compostela - Constance Mary Storrs Walking to Santiago - Mary E Willkie
Pilgrim Stories - Nancy Louise Frey
Spanish Pilgrimage - A Canter to St James - Robin Hanbury-Tenison
Atlas of Medieval Europe – Matthew
London, The Biography – Peter Ackroyd
Paris Pilgrim: Hilary Hugh-Jones and Mark Hassall
Body and Soul, Hospitality Through the ages on the Roads to Compostela: CSJ Confraternity of St James Conference Proceedings.
Reading Medieval Studies: Volume XVI 1990 – Brian Kemp
1990 Conference Papers - British pilgrims to Santiago in Middle Ages.
The Canterbury Tales – Geoffrey Chaucer
Domesday Heritage – Towns and Villages of Norman England through 900 Years.
The Collins Guide to France – edited by John Ardagh
The Way of Saint James, Vol. I by Georgiana Goddard King
The Way of Saint James, Vol. II by Georgiana Goddard King
The Way of Saint James, Vol. III by Georgiana Goddard King

Good luck with your research!


  1. Lovely site Sylvia. I am currently doing a website building course and this makes me take note of what is around. I have told Lorraine to take a look in preparation for her next Camino. Best Wishes, Shawn

  2. What a wonderful resource you have provided for all your readers!

    Thanks for sharing.

  3. Perhaps the (expensive) Encyclopedia of medieval pilgrimage: