English Landscapes and Identities

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English Landscapes and Identities

October 28 @ 5:00 pm - 6:00 pm


English Landscapes and Identities

by Professor Chris Gosden FSA


I will present and discuss the results of a large project on the history of the English landscape from the setting up of field systems in the middle Bronze Age (c. 1500 BC) to Domesday Book (AD 1086). In order to look at issues of continuity and change, regional differences and identities we amassed a large digital database with close to 1 million entries drawn from the major digital records on English archaeology. As a Big Data project, part of aim was to amass and assess data across England and over 2500 years to see what sorts of new stories it was possible to tell about England’s past. We came up with the term ‘characterful data’ to describe archaeological information, as evidence takes on the character of all the processes of fieldwork, recording and curation. While it is not possible (or even desirable) to create a dataset which is all the same in the way it was gathered and structured, we do feel it is possible to work with the largescale datasets from England to gain meaningful results. I will explore some of the modes of variation within the evidence and the steps we took to ensure we could work meaningfully with the evidence.

There are differences in regional histories, particularly in the north and west as compared to south and east which do not simply derive from climate and topography, as well as a mix of cosmological and more pragmatic forces in the laying out and naming of landscapes. We addressed questions of food and both temporal and spatial scale. I will also address the tricky issue of identity through archaeological evidence. In addition to giving an overview of our approach and some of the results, I will end with reflections on the possibilities of future work with data at this scale.

The project has been published as a book: EngLaId Team. 2021. English Landscapes and Identities. Investigating Landscape Change from 1500 BC to AD 1086. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

This event will be both in person at Burlington House and online. Please select the appropriate ticket below.

Attendance at Burlington House:

  • Open to anyone to join, Fellows and Non-Fellows.
  • Places in person will be allocated on a first-come, first-served basis.
  • The event will begin at 17.00 BST. Please arrive in plenty of time.
  • Tea/Coffee for Fellows is served from 16.30 BST
  • Registration is essential for non-Fellows but we encourage Fellows to register as well.
  • Fellows must ensure they sign the guest book and sign their guests in.
  • All attendees should scan the NHS QR code available at the entrance. For further details on the Government guidelines regarding COVID-19 and track and trace please visit their website here.

The schedule for the evening if attending in person:

  • Refreshments for Fellows are served from 16.30 BST in the council room.
  • The meeting begins at 17.00 BST with the lecture starting at approximately 17.10 BST.
  • Lectures run for approximately 45min and are followed by a short Q&A.
  • Sherry is served in the Foyer following the lecture.

Attendance by Live Stream:

  • Open to anyone to join, Fellows and Non-Fellows.
  • The event will be live-streamed to YouTube here
  • The event will begin at 17.00 BST.
  • You will receive an email reminder with the link to join the day before the lecture.

Please help the Society continue to deliver our FREE online Lecture Programme by making a donation to cover the cost of upgraded IT and software. We would really appreciate your support. Thank you! 

If you have any questions, please contact us on [email protected]


Get tickets online


October 28
5:00 pm - 6:00 pm
Event Categories:


Society of Antiquaries of London
Burlington House, Piccadilly
London, W1J 0BE United Kingdom
020 7479 7080