Assembling more data, thinking through case study areas …

Over the last month, members of the Englaid team have been involved in a couple more regional HER meetings and have engaged with the broader research community at a workshop in Oxford on Landscape and Scale (more to come on this in a separate posting …).

Firstly, we would like to thank those who hosted to the south west and eastern regional HER meetings – in particular Chris Webster in Somerset and Vanessa Clarke in Bedford Borough – for having us along to these forums. We are also extremely grateful to all who attended these meetings for providing such thoughtful and constructive feedback on the project’s work so far as well as on its broader aims – your collective input is very much appreciated and as the following discussion hopefully shows we are considering your suggestions very carefully.

One outcome of our broader consultation with HER officers and the wider research community has been that we have begun to review the project’s original case studies (those set out in the original project design). The form and location of the project case studies has become a topic of considerable interest and we have now received a wealth of good suggestions as to how to reshape the case studies in order to satisfy our key aims of:

1) providing a sense of regional landscape variability across England
2) foregrounding data from under-exposed research areas
3) showcasing particularly rich combinations of data from the various sources consulted
4) linking into regional research agendas

The provisional results are illustrated below (the original case study areas are outlined in pale yellow).

The main outcome of this broader consultation is that many of those we have talked to felt that it was important for our case studies to traverse different landscape zones rather than focusing on areas defined either geographically (such as the Yorkshire Wolds) or by modern political boundaries (counties such as Suffolk or Norfolk). One particularly bold consequence of this is the new case study area which traverses the middle of England from east to west (a suggestion which came from the East Midlands regional HER meeting – thanks in particular to Ken Smith of the Peak District National Park Authority). We have also included a greater number of river valleys (for instance the Alne valley in Northumbria, the Lea Valley in Hertfordshire, and the Humber estuary), and a distinct island – the Isle of Wight – in part, to balance out a previous emphasis on upland areas. Two more interpretatively-led additions are a case study revisiting Hoskins’ Lincolnshire, rendered so evocatively in his seminal work The Making of the English Landscape, together with a strip of land traversing Hadrian’s Wall in order to explore the affects of this substantial piece of landscape architecture. It is also worth emphasising that the revised case studies are not fixed. Other than the case studies which we have already begun work on – the Dartmoor and Tamar Valley, Devon, and the Mendip Hills, Somerset – we would continue to welcome further ideas regarding the areas we have (re)defined. However from this point onwards, most revisions we make to the case study areas are likely to be exercises in fine-tuning rather than substantially reworking.

Finally, we have received another wave of datasets over the past month and would like to express a huge thanks to those involved in producing them. We are extremely grateful to Victoria Brown (Humber), Stuart Cakebread and Mel Bell (Greater London), Nick Crank (Milton Keynes), Sally Croft (Cambridgeshire) Ben Croxford (Kent), Lucie Dingwall & Melissa Seddon (Herefordshire), David Evans (S Gloucestershire), Jonathan Goodwin (Stoke), Teresa Hocking (Berkshire), Beccy Loader (Isle of Wight), Sarah Orr (W Berkshire) John Oxley (City of York), Sheena Payne-Lunn (Worcester), Colin Pendleton and Sarah Poppy (Suffolk), Rachel Salter (W Sussex), Mike Shaw (Black Country), Isobel Thompson (Hertfordshire), Liz Williams (Northumberland) and Julia Wise (Buckinghamshire) for sending through the HER datasets for these areas. Thanks, once again, to Keith Wescott at ExeGesIS for his continued support with processing the Englaid query for HBSMR-users.

The receipt of a new tranche of NMP data from English Heritage for the East Midlands region is much appreciated – we have now collated the NMP data for roughly half of England and are very much enjoying exploring its potential. One other more specific dataset we have kindly been given is Janice Kinory’s database of (mainly later prehistoric) salt-working sites, produced as part of her doctoral research. As the attendees of recent regional HER meetings have seen, we are now in a position to start interrogating in further detail the correspondence between various datasets and also their particular qualities.

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