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


This lecture 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.

Please note that due to COVID 19 restrictions this event may be online only. If we can hold this event at Burlington House tickets to attend in person will be released closer to the date of the event.  

Attendance by Live Stream:

  • Registration is essential.
  • Open to anyone to join, Fellows and Non-Fellows.
  • Once you have registered we will be in touch regarding how you can join via Zoom video-calling.
  • The event will also be live-streamed to YouTube here, so you can watch along if you prefer
  • Places through zoom will be allocated on a first-come, first-served basis.
  • The event will begin at 17.00 BST.
  • You will recieve an email with the link to join the day before the lecture.
  • Attendees’ cameras and microphones will be off throughout

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If you have any questions please contact our Communications and Events Manager on [email protected]


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October 28
5:00 pm - 6:00 pm
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Society of Antiquaries of London
Burlington House, Piccadilly
London, W1J 0BE United Kingdom
020 7479 7080