Ancient and modern. Digital ways of learning about a medieval town

I met an enthusiast for using digital technology to bring medieval literature and culture to wider audiences, who has joined us in Humanities at Southampton.

Professor of English Catherine Clarke is helping local people and visitors understand more aboutChesterin medieval times – through digital mapping tools and new media. “The town has always celebrated its Roman history, and now we’re helping to explore its rich medieval heritage,” she says.

Her ‘Mapping Medieval Chester’ project has produced new digital editions of medieval texts with GIS mapping to show how different cultural and ethnic communities imagined the urban space. “People interested in a particular building, such as the magnificentSt John’sChurch, which may date back to Saxon times, can discover online what happened there,” she explains. “If they do, they’ll learn about the tradition that King Edgar visited the church and that Welsh people went there on pilgrimage to see the ‘relics of the true cross’.” Catherine’s work inChesteris supported by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC).

A new AHRC Knowledge Transfer Fellowship enables her to continue her multidisciplinary research inChester. A new project involves the local authority, theGrosvenorMuseumand other city organisations. It will result in digital resources, a major exhibition and a dramatic piece of public art from artist Nayan Kulkarni. Catherine is also working on a historic mapping project at Wimborne Minster in Dorset with local people and the town’s Priest’sHouseMuseum.

Catherine, who joins us from the Universityof Swansea, has a particular interest in the early medieval period c.900-1200. Much of her research explores intersections between place, power and identity. She will teach Visions of Beowulf  to students from autumn 2012.