Environments in Public Workshop, Nov 3rd 2014

Early next month UEA will be hosting a workshop on the theme of ‘Environments in Public’, in collaboration with the Broads Authority and 3S.

You can find out more here and see the full programme here.

There’s also a chance to see ‘Tales from the River’ the night before at the Playhouse Bar in Norwich – ‘A storytelling journey along the River Trent from source to sea’.




East Anglia and the Public Stage

This week the Centre of East Anglian Studies winter lecture series continues with Professor Helen Cooper from the University of Cambridge.

Helen has been Professor of Medieval and Renaissance English at Magdalene College since 2004, and her research interests range from early medieval Romances, to Chaucer and his legacy, and to Shakespeare and other medieval and early modern pastoral literature and romance. Her recent book, Shakespeare and the Medieval World, examined the ways in which medieval culture and literature infused Shakespeare’s life and work.

Her lecture this week will deal with drama and stagecraft in East Anglia in the long sixteenth century.

Thursday 21st February
Vernacular Stagecraft: East Anglia and the public stage in the long sixteenth century
Professor Helen Cooper, University of Cambridge
Lecture Theatre 1, UEA, 7:15pm

All welcome and free entry – no need to book.

The Great Flood

Exactly a century ago, on the 26th and 27th of August 1912 Norfolk suffered one of the worst floods in its history, now known as the Great Flood. Unlike other catastrophic floods, like those of 1953, the flood of 1912 was caused almost entirely by heavy rainfall – up to 8 inches fell in some places.

The damage was widespread – particularly in Norwich where the lowest lying parts of the city were inundated, including the City Station and the Bullard brewery at Coslany. Carrow and Trowse were also badly affected, as were parts of Lakenham.

The Bure valley was also badly affected and the Aylsham Navigation, along the course of the Bure between Aylsham and Coltishall, was damaged beyond repair.

The floodwaters cascade across the road near the Anchor of Hope Inn in Lammas, near Buxton.

The railway bridge near Buxton, with the floodwaters almost up to the height of the tracks.

This is the same railway bridge, taken from the path next to the river, which shows the depth of the floodwaters at this point.

A train full of holidaymakers from the Midlands was trapped by the floodwaters in Aylsham station, and the passengers had to be rescued by a local fishing boat. One unnamed passenger spoke to reporters from the Eastern Daily Press:

I shall never forget the sight. It was terrible; nothing but water with wrecks of huts and gardens and trees floating, and it was as deep as the sea.

On the Navigation, all of the locks were effectively destroyed and many bridges collapsed. It took several years for all of the bridges to be repaired, and some bridges were still only temporary structures until the 1920s. The Navigation itself was officially abandoned in 1928.

We have been working with the Aylsham Local History Society to investigate the history of the Aylsham Navigation from its inception in the late eighteenth century to its end in August 1912. One of the main outcomes of the project is a publication written by members of the Society and other volunteers, and the book was finished and printed just in time for the centenary of the Great Flood.

This weekend, the local community came together in Coltishall to remember the Great Flood of August 1912. The event was organised by the Bure Navigation Conservation Trust which aims to promote our understanding of this stretch of the River Bure.

The restored wherry Albion came up the Bure from the Broads, and was greeted by a flotilla of sea scouts in canoes. The scouts left Aylsham at 8am that morning to travel down the course of the Navigation, which is no longer accessible to larger vessels. It took them about 6 hours to make the 9 mile journey.

The book published as part of this project will be officially launched next month, but this centenary weekend was a fitting moment to end our project and celebrate the history of the Navigation.

Ancient Trees and Wood Pasture

Kimberley OaksVeteran Oak pollards at Kimberley Park, Norfolk

On Saturday UEA was the venue for the annual conference of the Society f0r Landscape Studies. The theme this year was ancient trees and wood pastures, and the papers covered a great deal of ground.

Dr Robert Liddiard kicked things off with a detailed paper on the nature of the medieval deer park, suggesting that our understanding of the ‘classic’ medieval deer park needs to be revised to take account of variations in the date, location and uses of parks. He also drew attention to the important, but often neglected, theme of disparkment from the sixteenth-century onwards, and the problems of interpretation this can cause.

Some of these themes are explored in the volume on Medieval Deer Parks: New Perspectives, edited by Rob in 2007.

Dr Robert Liddiard giving his paper ‘What is a Deer Park?’

Patsy Dallas, currently finishing her thesis at UEA, spoke about the use of commons as wood pasture in Norfolk and their survival (or not) after enclosure in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Patsy brought to light several examples of wooded commons on contemporary maps, including the ‘Plantings’ in the parish of Gressenhall as shown on Thomas Waterman’s highly detailed map of 1624 (now in the Norfolk Record Office).

Dr Della Hooke (Honorary Fellow at the University of Birmingham) discussed wood pasture in Anglo Saxon England, particularly in relation to the distribution of place names and the grazing links between heavily exploited agricultural areas and more marginal areas of wood pasture, using examples drawn from the Weald and the Malvern Hills.

Many of the themes covered in Della’s wide-ranging paper are explored further in her recent book Trees in Anglo Saxon England: Literature, Law and Landscape (2010).

Prof. Tom Williamson talking about ancient trees in Norfolk.

Professor Tom Williamson from the University of East Anglia talked about the problems of dating trees, drawing on a study of over 5,000 veteran trees in Norfolk. This detailed study shows that it is virtually impossible to accurately date trees by measuring their girth, using examples of trees which can be confidently dated from documentary sources or their archaeological context. Tom also showed how the modern pattern of the survival of ancient trees is dictated by social, cultural and economic factors, rather than just environmental ones.

The project is the subject of a forthcoming book, Ancient Trees in the Landscape: Norfolk’s Aboreal Heritage, which will be published this autumn.

Nicola Whyte from the University of Exeter gave a paper which emphasised the cultural importance of ancient trees in the landscape during the early modern period. Drawing on examples of trees used as boundary markers in parish perambulations, she showed that it is possible to map topographies of custom and memory in the early modern landscape.

Nicola’s book on Inhabiting the Landscape: Place, Custom and Memory 1500-1800, explores more aspects of this cultural landscape.

Delegates at the annual Society for Landscape Studies conference.

The last paper was from Professor Andrew Fleming (University of Wales) who discussed the evidence for areas of wood pasture in both Swaledale, in Yorkshire, and Powys, demonstrating the variety of different types of wood pasture, ranging from large intercommons to individual wood pastures, and the complexity of their post-medieval histories. He emphasised that large, very old pollards have a greater capacity for resistance than other trees, which may partly explain their survival, and noted the high number of very high, so-called ‘giraffe’ pollards in Powys.

Andrew’s work on the landscape of Swaledale has been published as Swaledale: Valley of the Wild River by Oxbow Books.

Taken as a whole, the papers presented a broad cross section of regions and chronologies though with some common themes – most notably the difficulty of pinning down defintions and reconstructing patterns of use when it comes to ancient trees and woodpastures. Clearly there is much valuable research still to be done in this fascinating and important area of landscape studies.

Thank you to all those who contributed to such an enjoyable and thought-provoking day.

Ancient Trees and Woodpastures – Autumn Conference

TreesOn Saturday 8th October 2011 UEA will be hosting the Society for Landscape Studies Autumn conference, ‘Ancient Trees and Woodpastures’ with speakers including Tom Williamson, Della Hooke and Andrew Fleming.

Ecologists and arboriculturalists have long emphasised the importance of ancient and traditionally-managed trees, and in particular the concentrations of such trees found in wood-pastures, for their role in maintaining biodiversity. Landscape historians are increasingly making their own, distinctive contribution to this important area of study. Why are ancient trees found where they are? How were trees managed in the past, and why? What did past generations think about old trees? In this conference some of the country’s leading landscape historians consider these and other important questions, placing ancient trees firmly within their wider historical contexts.

The deadline for conference registration is 16th September 2011 (forms can be downloaded here) and the cost is £20 or £12 for students.


Rob Liddiard (UEA) ‘What was a deer park?’

Patsy Dallas (UEA) ‘Wood-pasture commons in post-medieval Norfolk’

Della Hooke ‘Anglo-Saxon wood-pastures’

Tom Williamson (UEA) ‘The landscape contexts of ancient trees: a Norfolk case study’

Nicola Whyte (Univ. of Exeter) ‘Trees and memory in early-modern England’

Andrew Fleming (Univ. of Wales) ‘The pollards of Powys: working with Welsh wood-pasture’

Festival of Archaeology 2011

This weekend saw the start of the Festival of British Archaeology, organised by the Council for British Archaeology. There are over 800 events taking place all over the country, and this weekend we led some guided tours of the landscape history and archaeology of Earlham Park.

Above: Earlham Hall in the early nineteenth century, before later alterations were made to the facade (including the addition of Dutch gables).

The Hall dates back to the sixteenth century, and the landscape park around it was laid out during the eighteenth century. The park preserved some elements of an earlier agricultural landscape, including ancient oak pollards from old hedgerows, field boundary banks and the earthworks of a road or hollow way.

Above: Earlham Park from the air, 1946. The golf course to the south of the park is now the site of the University of East Anglia.

There are over 800 events taking place all over the country as part of the Festival – you can search for ones near you on the Festival website.

In Norfolk there are several events taking place at key archaeological sites:

Sedgeford Historical and Archaeological Research Project – 2nd July to 13th August

Excavations open daily with weekly talks on Tuesday evenings.

Caistor St Edmund Roman Town – 17th, 20th, 24th and 27th July at 11am.

Guided tours of the site of the Roman town with the Norfolk and Norwich Archaeological Society.

Science Cafe: Caring for Archaeological Objects – 20th July 7:30pm

The science cafe at the Maddermarket Theatre will focus on the care of archaeological artefacts.

Binham Priory Open Weekend – 23rd & 24th July

Mini digs around the site of Binham Priory with guided walks of the site.

Lynn Museum Archaeology Day – 30th July

Hands-on activities and artefacts at the home of Seahenge.

More details and booking information for these events is available from the Festival website.


High Street History in Halesworth

Despite the weather conditions on a snowy Sunday the Centre of East Anglian Studies ran a small project to investigate the history of shops and shopping in Halesworth in north Suffolk. The day was a resounding success!

An overwhelming turnout of over 100 people including residents and shop-owners from Halesworth and the surrounding area came to share their memories and research the history of their shops. Many people brought old photographs and their own archival material to show to volunteer undergraduate students and staff from UEA. Staff from the Suffolk Record OfficeHalesworth Museum and Halesworth Library were also present to help and had brought many materials of their own, including old maps, photographs and newspapers.

Together we were able to piece together the hidden mysteries of the high street. For example, the present greengrocers called ‘Melons’ (50 Thoroughfare) used to be a chemist and evidence of this can be still seen in the rooms upstairs. The chemist was called ‘Paranol’ and an almanac from 1940 showed that the shop was owned by Wilfred Miles George, whose son, Wilfred Shardelow George, sold the shop in 1976.

In the New Year, we plan to return to Halesworth to carry out a series of archaeological test-pit digs followed up by an evening lecture and an exhibition in the town plus publication of the team’s findings on the Halesworth town website. Lots of the people who attended this drop-in session are keen to continue with this research, so we hope to see many of them again!

Text by Rachel Broomfield and Charlotte Hurst, undergraduate students taking English History with Landscape Archaeology at UEA.

High Street History in Halesworth

Working with BBC Learning, the Centre of East Anglian Studies (part of the School of History at the University of East Anglia) is running a small project to investigate the history of shops and shopping in Halesworth in north Suffolk.

Halesworth is a delightful market town full of independent shops, many of which have been there for decades, if not centuries!  This town has recently fought off a sustained attempt by Tesco to build a large supermarket in the town and, whilst not everyone in town necessarily agreed with the campaign, it has highlighted just how important the independant ‘high street’ is to the local community.

Staff and undergraduate students from UEA including Lucy Marten, Sarah Spooner and Jon Gregory, have arranged to take over Halesworth Library on Sunday 28th November from 11am to 3pm to run a drop-in workshop with archive materials provided by Suffolk Record Office and Halesworth Museum.  Staff from the Suffolk Record Office, Halesworth Museum, Halesworth Library and Archaeologists from Suffolk County Council Archaeology Unit will also be available to help.

Members of the local community will be encouraged to drop-in for this one day event, research the history of their shops or the high street in general from written sources to oral recollections and record their findings, to uncover the history of retailing in the town. This event will be followed up by an evening lecture and an exhibition in the town plus publication of the team’s findings on the Halesworth town website.

Text by Rachel Broomfield, undergraduate student in History and Landscape Archaeology.

CEAS Research Seminars

The new programme of the Centre of East Anglian Studies research seminars gets underway this week. The first seminar, this Thursday, is on King Edmund, the East Anglian warrior king killed by the Vikings in the ninth century.

All are welcome. The seminars start at 6:15pm, in room 4.16 in the School of History at UEA.


Photo by Lawrence OP


Thursday 14th October

Dr Tom Licence (UEA) – ‘King Edmund: from warrior king to meek martyr’

Thursday 28th October

Edward Martin (Suffolk Archaeology) – ‘Henslow of Hitcham:  the professor of botany who inspired both Darwin and a Suffolk Parish’

Thursday 18th November

Dr Nicholas Amor – ‘Apprenticeship in Late Medieval Ipswich’

Thursday 2nd December

Dr Michael Bridges – ‘Fakenham: development of a market town’

Thursday 20th January

Helen Lunnon (UEA) – ‘A consideration of Porch Imagery in Late Medieval Norfolk’

More information on the Centre of East Anglian Studies can be found here.

Walberswick – Coastal Defences

A project by UEA’s Virtual Past team has received a highly commended award at the British Archeaological Awards. The project involved the digital reconstruction of World War Two defences in and around the Suffolk village of Walberswick.

During the threat of German invasion in 1940, hundreds of miles of Britain’s beaches were sealed off and fortified with barbed wire, gun emplacements and more. Many of these features have since been obscured or destroyed by later developments, and the Walberswick project aims to reconstruct and understand the impact that these defences had on the landscape in the 1940s.


The results of the project have been put online at http://www.walberswickww2.co.uk/. The website has videos of the 3D reconstructions, maps, downloads, teaching packs and more detailed information about the academic research that underpinned the project.

Dr Rob Liddiard, Senior Lecturer in Landscape History, picked up the award on behalf of the team at the British Archaeological Awards last month. Rob said ‘We were delighted to receive this award, as a substantial amount of research was undertaken by the team to inform the accuracy of the reconstruction of this site including earthwork survey, excavation and aerial photography. It is fantastic that our work has been commended, particularly at such a highly regarded archaeological event’.

Virtual Past is a collaboration between the School of History and the School of Computing at UEA, which has produced 3D digital models of a number of historic buildings and landscapes – see more on their website.