Landscape History at UEA – a former student writes

Guest blog from Felix Mayle, former landscape history student (2009-2012)

I graduated from UEA in the summer of 2012, with a BA in History and Landscape Archaeology. Since graduating I have worked for English Heritage’s Gardens and Landscapes team as a paid intern and, since 2nd April, as Heritage Project Officer for Heritage Lincolnshire and the Lincolnshire Wolds Countryside Service.

When I started at UEA in 2009, I can safely say that I had little or no idea what I wanted to do after leaving university, and subsequently had no plan in place for life after graduation. I was originally enrolled to read a degree in Modern History but by the end of my second year I had decided to change my degree course over to Landscape Archaeology. Having taken several modules within the Landscape History area as free choices, I had been captivated by the enthusiasm of the lecturers, the rich, diverse content and multi-disciplinary nature of the course and the wonderful field trips!

Audley End

A Landscape Special Subject field trip to Audley End, Essex (May 2012).

 

Around the time of changing my degree and throughout my final year, I felt that I would like to enter into a career within the heritage sector. Having done some research into the sector, through the UEA careers service and talking with the landscape history lecturers, it became clear that to be employable in heritage, experience would be invaluable. With this in mind, it was fantastic news to hear that the landscape history team were running a new module for the 2011/2012 academic year – Working in the Historic Environment, a work placement module carried out over the summer between second and third year and backed up with seminars in the spring semester.

Belton House

Belton House, Lincolnshire.

 

With help from the landscape team, I was able to arrange a placement to work with the National Trust at Belton House in Lincolnshire. The experience I gained from this placement has been integral in helping me to get both of my post university jobs. The project management, report writing and hands on work are skills I regularly use on a day-to-day basis. The icing on the cake was when the Channel 4 show Time Team asked to use the report I wrote for the project as part of their research for one of their episodes, a welcome bonus to my CV!

Belton WWI Camp

Examining the remains of a First World War machine gun training camp in the park at Belton (JULY 2011).

 

During my third year, in the spring semester I also undertook a voluntary work placement with a local authority – Breckland District Council where I was able to put into practice all of the skills I had gained from my degree into action: presentations, research and analytical skills, project management and writing for different audiences.

I began to look for graduate jobs towards the end of the Spring Semester in 2012, after a seminar where we looked at all of the places that heritage orientated jobs might be advertised online. Although I did not seriously begin to look for graduate jobs until after I had finished my final pieces of work and exams in my final year. Between finishing the exam period and graduation day, I applied for one or two jobs that came up but had been unlucky and began to think that I should broaden my horizons and apply for graduate schemes in other sectors.

Once I had received my final degree result, it was a massive confidence boost in applying for jobs and as graduation loomed, the ideal job came up in the form of the intern position at English Heritage. Reading the job specification was like reading and ticking off a checklist of skills I had developed from studying the landscape history course at UEA. The landscape history team were extremely supportive in helping me with my application, they looked through my CV and covering letter and once I had been offered an interview, they helped me with my preparation for it by offering me interview tips and guidance.

The knowledge and skills they imparted were also invaluable as I applied for and successfully got the job I an now doing. You can find out more about the project I’m currently working on here – http://www.down-your-wold.co.uk/

Normanby-le-Wold

Bridleway to NormanBY-Le-Wold (© Copyright Kate Nicol)

 

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A long way from East Anglia…Part 2

There are, presumably, not many landscape parks in Britain that are best approached via ferry. Of course, if you can think of any do please let us know. We could start a series…

Cremyll Ferry Photo

Anyway, Mount Edgcumbe, located on the very furthest south-eastern tip of Cornwall, overlooking Plymouth Sound, is one of this select band. It’s one of our favourite parks, partly, but not entirely because of the excitement of crossing the mouth of the River Tamar aboard the Cremyll Ferry.

Being surrounded on two sides by the sea gives the park an unusual feeling, as does the fact that views are dominated by the sprawling suburbs of Plymouth (with a backdrop of Dartmoor on clear days). The hall and deer park date to the 16th century, though many of the key features of the landscape today date to the 18th and 19th centuries, such as the Orangery (c.1760), an impressive folly on the upper slopes of the park (1740s) and a range of other garden grottoes and temples. The hall was badly damaged by German bombs in 1943 but subsequently restored in the 1960s.

The park also contains a range of military features, something that is not altogether surprising given its strategic location. These include a two storey blockhouse (c1540) and the ‘Garden Battery’, which began life as a private saluting battery complete with 21 cannon, before being substantially upgraded in the 1860s to form part of the defences of Plymouth Sound and Devonport.

We’ll leave the last word to Louis Simond, who visited in January 1810:

The great charm is in the contrast of the loneliness and retirement of objects near you, with the lively scene and richness, and immensity, bursting on the river here and there; and, upon the whole, this comes nearer to my ideas of beauty than any spot I ever saw.

A long way from East Anglia…Part 1

Earlier this month, and for various complicated reasons, we found ourselves in Devon for the weekend. We used the opportunity to visit somewhere we’ve been meaning to get to for quite a few years – the Royal William Victualling Yard in Plymouth.

Image

Work was overseen by Sir John Rennie and Philip Richards and was completed in the 1830s, resulting in an imposing set of neo-classical buildings that used local limestone and granite. Rennie was engineer to the Admiralty and had also been responsible for completing Plymouth’s breakwater (a project started by his father). The 16 acre Victualling Yard included a brewery, bakehouse and cooperage and was designed for processing and storing the food, drink and equipment needed by ships leaving Plymouth.

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The yard passed into private hands in 1992 and in recent years has undergone considerable work to turn the Grade 1 listed buildings into various apartments and restaurants.

Warham Camp

There are only a handful of Iron Age hill forts in Norfolk, and the best preserved is Warham Camp, hidden in a field in north-west Norfolk.

Accessible to the public from the road down a footpath (laden with blackberries and other hedgerow fruits at this time year), the earthworks of the fort are still impressive. Although once completely circular, the banks and ditches on one side are now cut by the River Stiffkey, the course of which was diverted in the eighteenth century.

Excavations have found evidence of Iron Age and Roman occupation, including a timber palisade and platform within the interior.

Click here to see Warham from the air

Read more about Warham Camp on the Norfolk Heritage Explorer website.

Other Iron Age hill forts in Norfolk –

Bloodgate Hill, South Creake

Now only visible as a cropmark, the site is owned by the Norfolk Archaeological Trust and is open to the public.

Tasburgh

The earthworks of the fort at Tasburgh are also owned by the Norfolk Archeological Trust and open to the public.

Holkham

Visible as an earthwork enclosure on the saltmarshes to the north of Holkham Hall. The fort is within the area of the Holkham National Nature Reserve.

Narborough

The earthworks of this hillfort lie close to a strategic crossing point of the River Nar. The fort is now in the grounds of Narborough Hall which is open to the public during the summer.

Thetford

An Iron Age fort, which was later reused as a motte and bailey castle. The impressive ramparts were originally constructed during the Iron Age, but were altered when the castle was built. Now within a public park the castle and fort are open to the public.