This AHRC-funded project brought together scholars working in the disciplines of literary studies, geography, archaeology and history to explore how material and imagined urban landscapes construct and convey a sense of place-identity. Medieval Chester was chosen as a case study because of its multi-cultural nature as a settlement on the border of England and Wales, its remarkable body of medieval multi-lingual literature, the survival of much of the material fabric and layout of the medieval city, and its rich archaeological data and relatively early historic maps.
The project brought together a new digital atlas of Chester c.1500, interlinked with new editions of medieval texts in English, Latin and Welsh which ‘map’ the city from different cultural perspectives. Additional atlas layers included a map of the modern city, and photos of medieval locations in Chester today submitted by local people via Flickr.
As well as furthering our understanding of place and identity in the medieval city, the project fostered transferable methodologies and working models for integrating visual and textual digital data sources in humanities research. It also raised theoretical questions about the implications of connecting different kinds of data, and bringing together medieval and modern spatial imaginaries and representational systems.
The project produced a website (www.medievalchester.ac.uk), and a volume edited by Catherine Clarke, Mapping the Medieval City: Space, Place and Identity in Chester c.1200-1600 (Cardiff, 2011), as well as publications relating to the project’s digital methods and research.
Directed by Catherine Clarke, this research now forms the basis for a new AHRC-funded Knowledge Transfer project, ‘Discover Medieval Chester’.
- Catherine Clarke