Regional Heritage Centre, Department of History Lancaster University
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Massive Open Online Course (MOOC)

We are delighted to announce that our first MOOC is open for registration. Find out more and see the trailer at:

Lancaster Castle and Northern English History: The View from the Stronghold

The fascinating and varied history of Lancaster Castle, ranging from its darker days as a medieval stronghold through to life as a Category C prison, is captured in this exciting new free course that’s open to all, presented on the Future Learn platform. The MOOC draws on the History Department’s wide-ranging historical expertise, whilst highlighting particular strengths in regional history and digital humanities. It uses Lancaster Castle as a microcosm of broader trends in regional history across two millennia - from the Romans to the twenty-first century.

The course starts on Monday 29 October 2018, and learners are expected to spend around three hours per week, for four weeks, viewing the specially-made videos, working through a range of activities and engaging in moderated discussion forums.

The course includes sections on:

  • The Roman coastal fort and its relationship to the northern frontier of the empire
  • The Norman Castle: its role in Anglo-Scottish warfare and the emergence of the Duchy of Lancaster
  • The Castle’s role as a prison for the Lancashire Witches, in the context of post-Reformation history
  • The Castle  as a debtors’ prison in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and prison reform
  • The impact of the First and Second World Wars on the Castle
  • The Castle’s importance to the region’s heritage.

By the end of the course participants will have developed their familiarity with a long sweep of history in relation to one significant site and will be more able to understand the regional context of broader historical trends. They will have the chance to evaluate historical debates  and to relate famous events and individuals to deeper social and political developments.

There is no need for prior experience or formal qualifications to undertake the course. We expect that that the Castle’s rich history means the course will have wide appeal, with participants from all over the world working together with help from our learning mentors.

The course will particularly appeal to:

  • People living in North West England who are keen to further their historical knowledge of the region
  • Lancastrians living elsewhere who retain a strong attachment to the county – perhaps particularly in the USA, Canada and Australia
  • Anyone with an interest in the broad sweep of British history, including those who mainly find out about the past through TV or radio programmes about history
  • People who are fascinated by castles!

Find out about our funders and supporters here.

For free registration please go to:


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