New approaches to recording, understanding and conserving historic landscapes in a global context

Posted on June 14, 2017


Do you like Landscapes? Well I have got a great session we filmed for you:
Session Abstract
In recent years there have been many developments in techniques and philosophical approaches that can assist those engaged in historic landscape research and management. These include not only digital datasets integrated through GIS (e.g. aerial imagery, remote sensing, historic characterisation) but more fundamentally the inclusion of heritage within broader landscape management using green infrastructure and ecosystem services approaches. The purpose of this session is to explore these and other innovative themes as they are applied in an international context. The session aims to appeal to a wide range of professionals who are engaged in historic landscape work, whether through research or management. Examples of good practice are encouraged, with the intention of sharing learning to encourage global best practice.

Organisers: Caron Newman and Sam Turner, Newcastle University

Dissolving borders in landscape study and digital professionalism Freya Horsfield, Durham University; David Astbury, Newcastle University

This paper aims to stimulate debate on the theme of ‘digital professionalism’ in the context of historic landscape research. In combination, historic landscape study and digital technologies offer the potential to dissolve borders in archaeology. Realising this potential entails an acknowledgement that geopolitical boundaries are not the sole borders facing our profession. The process of landscape research can, if appropriately designed and conducted, increase our knowledge about the past, offer pathways to lifelong learning, enable a better evidence base for societal decisions and engage diverse stakeholders. Such research is becoming increasingly interdisciplinary, and also increasingly dependent on competence in such interlinked areas as data science, digital analysis, big data and statistics. How can digital research and practice be harnessed to increase the dynamic between commercial, academic and community-based archaeology pursuits? How can we prevent an archaeological digital skills and practice divide, not just in the UK but also globally? To illustrate the potential and challenges, examples will be given from a number of recent and current projects which use new approaches to recording, understanding and conserving historic landscapes.

Are we forgetting something? Engaging stakeholders with the management of European cultural landscapes at a local level Gemma Tully and Tom Moore, Durham University

Article 5c of the European Landscape Convention suggests the sustainable management of landscapes requires ‘procedures for the participation of the general public, local and regional authorities, and other parties with an interest in the definition and implementation of the landscape policies’. Dialogue is called for beyond traditional management stakeholders to ‘address the values attaching to landscapes and the issues raised by their protection, management and planning’ (Article 6B.c), and yet public involvement in policy-making appears to be under-explored outside the organisational level, or is undertaken at national rather than local scale (e.g. NE 2009, 2010). Through discussion of a current pan-European cultural landscape project with a strong heritage theme (REFIT), this paper hopes to build on the value of adhering more closely to the recommendations of the ELC by integrating other landscape stakeholders at the outset of the management process in order to better represent the dynamic nature of landscapes, their communities and histories.

Agricultural terraces in Catalonia: an interdisciplinary approach towards an understanding of historic landscape change Professor Sam Turner, Head of the School of History, Classics and Archaeology, Director of McCord Centre for Landscape, Newcastle University

To understand why historic landscapes changed in the past, researchers need to identify when and where changes took place, but in rural landscapes the origins and development of many historic elements including field systems, roads, terraces and other earthworks remain poorly understood. This paper outlines an innovative interdisciplinary method using luminescence profiling and dating to underpin GIS-based historic landscape characterisation (HLC). I focus on case studies of terraced agricultural landscapes in western Catalonia and demonstrate for the first time that existing terrace systems there often have medieval or early modern origins.

Summer dairying and the history of upland landscapes: the importance of traditional cheese-making practice for landscape management in the Alps Francesco Carrer, McCord Centre for Landscape, Newcastle University

Although it is widely acknowledged that pastoralism has shaped mountainous landscapes since the Neolithic, the environmental impact of its different productive goals is poorly understood. Cheese production, for example, is very important for the economy and identity of mountain communities, but its role in the traditional management of vulnerable high-altitude environment is virtually unexplored. In this paper three study areas from the Alps will be investigated: Valgerola (central Italian Alps), where Bitto cheese production has been rescued by the Slow Food Foundation, with beneficial effects for the environment; Val Maudagna (western Italian Alps), where the modernisation of the long-lasting Raschera cheese production, and the conversion of the area to winter tourism, have triggered erosion and rewilding; Silvretta massif (eastern Swiss Alps), where the first prehistoric evidence of cheese production corresponds to a phase of increasing human-induced upland landscape transformation. These case studies will show how traditional summer dairying can contribute to sustainable landscape management at high altitude.

Ecosystems services and green infrastructure approaches to land management in the UK: threat or opportunity for the historic environment Dr Richard Newman, Wardell Armstrong Archaeology

In recent years much environmental planning and management work across the globe has been undertaken using concepts such as ecosystems services and green infrastructure. Archaeologists working in both the private and public sectors have sometimes struggled to engage with these concepts, which originated in the natural environment and economic development sectors, but it is essential that archaeologists are engaged with and understand them. Moreover, it is critical that archaeologists and other historic environment professionals understand both the opportunities offered and the challenges posed to historic landscapes by these concepts and associated initiatives, such as new woodland creation and rewilding. Many fellow professionals working in the environmental sector are both informed about and sympathetic to the needs and aims of the historic environment and its curators, but this is not the case with all. Opinion makers such as George Monbiot promote views that are anything but sympathetic to these aims and needs. How then do historic environment professionals meet these challenges and remain solidly embedded within the green movement?

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