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Connections between land and power were most clearly expressed through the estates of the gentry and aristocracy in the British Isles c.1500-1930. These landholdings, usually attached to a country house, provided a foundation for the owner's social, political, cultural and economic influence. They also afforded significant capacity for controlling aspects of the landscape's appearance and arrangement, and influencing how it was used, managed, inhabited and worked - through schemes of agriculture, enclosure, industry, architecture, forestry, leisure, transportation, horticulture, landscape design and tenant relations. Estates varied significantly in their size, character, composition and longevity, depending on the nature of their geographical setting and the identities of their owners and inhabitants. Most produced copious records pertaining to the acquisition, inheritance and management of land and the often wide-ranging activities associated with the estate. These archives form a major part of the nation's archival holdings, with thousands of such collections held by county record offices, national and university repositories and in private ownership. They provide abundant evidence relating to individual places, landscapes and features often stretching over centuries of proprietorship. However, it is often difficult to comprehend these records, especially non-cartographic records, in relation to the precise 'places on the ground' to which they refer.  This AHRC-funded project, which pools expertise from academia and the cultural heritage sector, and from the fields of history, archives, digital humanities and archaeology, seeks to overcome this challenge by exploring methods of how to spatially link such records with the landscape through the creation of an online Geographical Information System (GIS). The ability to combine and structure records, from different collections, spatially and chronologically will open up new digital pathways for understanding post-medieval landscapes. The project is particularly interested in how a combination of records can reveal the changing extent, character, composition, use and appearance of estate landscapes across the period c.1500-1930. The project adopts a case study area in north-east Wales packed with multiple estates of varying character, composition and longevity and served with plentiful records.


All welcome- this seminar is free to attend, but advance registration is required.