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HIST423: Landscape and Heritage

Eskdale valley in the Lake DistrictAvailable 2014/15

Course Convenor: Professor Angus Winchester

Teaching: Michaelmas Term (includes two half-day field excursions).

Assessment: one short (approx. 1,500-word) map-based exercise and one longer (approx 3,500-word) project essay.

This module explores W.G. Hoskins' dictum that 'to those who know how to read it aright, the English landscape is the richest historical record we possess'. Taking a case study approach (drawing particularly on the varied landscapes of Cumbria), the course offers an intensive introduction to how historians can 'read' the rural landscape as a source of historical evidence. It is structured around two themes. The first is that, as the cumulative product of generations of human activity across many centuries, the landscape has been 'written over' time and again but that older elements often survive to show through later changes. The second theme is that landscape is rich in historical symbolism and can be read as the concrete expression of abstract ideas, such as power and authority.

Preliminary Reading:

  • W.G. Hoskins, The Making of the English Landscape (1955; later paperback editions).
  • M. Aston, Interpreting the Landscape: landscape archaeology in local studies (revised edition, 1997).
  • Joan Thirsk (ed.), The English Rural Landscape (2000).
  • Angus J L Winchester and Alan G Crosby, England's Landscape 8: The North West(2006).

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