Research Projects

Members of the Department of History are involved in several major research projects, often in collaboration with colleagues in other departments at Lancaster, or with academics in other institutions in the UK and further afield. 

Pelagios Commons

The Pelagios Commons initiative, led by Lancaster University, Open University, AIT Austrian Institute of Technology, and the Institute of Catalan Studies, is an international collaboration dedicated to identifying and recording geographical references in historical documents. The project involves over a hundred partners and will significantly enhance access to and use of invaluable online historical resources. The work is funded by US-based Andrew W. Mellon Foundation with two grants totalling $1,264,000. Tools previously developed by the team to record and visualize historical geography are already being used by institutions and experts from 13 countries in 8 different languages. 


History of Financial Advice

The History of Financial Advice, bringing together scholars from the Universities of Southampton, Lancaster, Manchester, and Edinburgh, provides the first thorough study of a genre of writing that has amassed a huge readership, and had major social and economic effects, but which has remained largely neglected by cultural and economic historians and by literary critics. The project, funded by the AHRC (2016-19), charts the history of personal financial advice literature as it has developed in Britain and the United States, ranging from the private letters and domestic advice manuals of the eighteenth century to the proliferation of popular financial novels, lifestyle guides and blogs in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. 

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Sheep, Wool, Landscape and Connectivity

This project, funded by a Marie SkÅ‚odowska-Curie Action Individual Fellowship and hosted by the University of Groningen, focuses on the processes involved in the evolution of three regional economies and the commodification of their agro-biological heritage, specifically as this relates to sheep and the production of woollen textiles (these regions are the Lake District and Dales of northern England, the Catalan Pyrenees, and the Piedmontese Alps). A trans-national, comparative approach allows for investigation of the diversity of local responses to the transformation of agro-biological products into commodities traded on a global scale; an extended chronological perspective also allows for the investigation of the similarly complex relationship between the creation of bio-economic value and the passage of time.


Geospatial Innovation in the Digital Humanities: A Deep Map of the Lake District

Building on the earlier projects, Mapping the Lakes and Spatial Humanities, this Leverhulme-funded project (2015-18) will develop new understandings of the literary and cultural geographies of one of Britain’s most significant cultural landscapes: the English Lake District. Run between Lancaster University and the University of Birmingham, it focuses on a 300 year period between the eighteenth and twentieth centuries, a time that witnessed successive social, cultural, economic and industrial revolutions which impacted on the landscape and contributed to the area’s heterogeneous identity. The project will apply ground-breaking and exploratory digital methods to the study of literature between 1700 and 1900 to investigate how this landscape is composed by multiple subjective viewpoints, and to exemplify how the application of geospatial tools to literary texts can further our understanding of regional identity and literary study.


Spatial Humanities: Texts, GIS and Places

This five-year project (2012-16), funded by the European Research Council, aims to create a step-change in the way in which place, space and geography are explored in the humanities. Building on Lancaster's technical expertise in Digital Humanities and applied expertise in Lake District literature and social history, the project is developing and applying methodologies for enabling unstructured texts - including books, newspapers and official reports - to be analysed  in a manner that stresses space, place, and mapping.


Mapping the Lakes: A Literary GIS

Mapping the Lakes was a collaborative and explorative research project. Funded by the British Academy, the project tested whether Geographic Information Systems (GIS) technology can be used to further the understanding of the literature of place and space. It mapped out two textual accounts of journeys through the landscape of the Lake District: Thomas Gray's tour of the region in the autumn of 1769; and Samuel Taylor Coleridge's 'circumcursion' of the area in August 1802.


Victoria County History Cumbria Project

A community local history project, involving teams of volunteers, trained and working under supervision by Lancaster University to create hundreds of parish histories for the Victoria County History (VCH), the leading national reference collection for local history.


Building Commons Knowledge

The project, funded by the AHRC ‘Contested Common Land’ project, was a collaboration between Newcastle Law School, Lancaster University History Department, the Foundation for Common Land and The National Trust. It has created an online ‘Commons Knowledge Resource Bank’, containing both a comprehensive database of research resources on common land and new materials on the history of commons in England and Wales, with helpful guidelines for use.


Norman Edge: Identity and State-Formation on the Frontiers of Europe

This collaborative project, based in the History Department at Lancaster University, was funded by a major AHRC grant (2008-2011). The research investigated the salient characteristics of Norman expansion from their northern French homeland to the frontiers of Christian Europe, assessing the relationships between medieval 'state-formation' and political identities.


The Hindu Temple and Modernity

This project was supported by a two-year Leverhulme Research Fellowship (2011-2013). A monograph currently under preparation traces the constitution of a subject, the temple, through the techniques uniquely associated with ‘the modern’: historicism, photography, archaeological conservation, colonial governance and art history.


Disputatious Societies: The British Caribbean, c.1600-1720

Thousands of digital images of primary sources – material and archival – have been collected in this centralised Lancaster University resource on seventeenth British and African settlement in the Caribbean region. These relate to the establishment of a British presence in the region known as the Torrid Zone, covering the larger settlements of Carolina, Barbados, Jamaica, the Leeward Islands and Surinam, among others. 


The William Gilbert website

This website is being developed to provide a comprehensive resource on the physician and natural philosopher William Gilbert (1544-1603). The contents are collated by Dr Stephen Pumfrey, the leading expert on Gilbert and author of Latitude and the Magnetic Earth (Cambridge: Icon Books, 2002), and Dr Sarah Rose.


Dynamics of Memory

Dynamics of Memory was an interdisciplinary Research Network funded by HERA, AHRC, Lancaster, and departmental funds. It hosted many public engagement events and established links with scholars and institutions around the world. Activity focused on the study of human rights abuses, conflict resolution and the memorialisation of wars and atrocities.


Cumbrian Manorial Records

These pages were constructed in 2006 by Professor Angus Winchester and Eleanor Straughton as part of the Cumbrian Manorial Records Project, a partnership between Lancaster UniversityThe National Archives and Cumbria Archive Service, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund. The project aimed to raise awareness and encourage use of an important but under-used class of local historical evidence - the records generated by manorial administration.