and Poltimore House about the Poltimore Community Landscape Project.
A new two-year collaborative community archaeology project has just begun jointly run by staff from the Archaeology and History departments at the University of Exeter and The Poltimore House Trust (funded by Arts and Humanities Research Council) focusing on the fascinating historic landscape surrounding Poltimore House (near Exeter).See the official site www.poltimore.org for further information about Poltimore House and other associated events. The next Heritage Open Days, when the house is open free to the public, are on Saturday and Sunday 11 and 12 September.
Poltimore House is a grand country residence and the centrepiece of one of the county’s great estates. A Grade II listed building of Tudor origin that has great architectural importance and was occupied by the Bampfylde family until 1921. In the 20th century, the house was used as a girl’s school, then a wartime refuge for Devon College and later as a hospital, that became part of the Exeter Hospitals Groups in 1963. These phases of ‘public’ use ensure that the house also has a prominent place in recent social history.
Poltimore House was also the centrepiece of a ‘polite landscape’ –a grand country residence embedded within parklands and gardens that were intended for pleasure and visual impact. Five hectares of the house’s surroundings are owned by the Poltimore House Trust and comprise a multi-phase landscape including ornamental canals and water features, designed avenues, an aviary/menagerie, rich historic garden architecture and a former deer park. The project will be investigating the evolution of Poltimore’s landscape though time, from prehistory to the present (but with an emphasis on the 16th to 20th centuries). The scrutiny of designed landscapes showing continuous evidence of modification from the Tudor to modern periods is rare in the south-west and the project will produce a pioneering case study in this regard.
The project will also create an interactive website to widen access to this remarkable cultural landscape to new audiences. A virtual environment, including text, images and video, will help individuals explore and understand the grounds and house. Virtual tours will be multi-layered and have commentaries based on the research findings and showing a rich variety of resources to include geophysical surveys, aerial photographs, interactive plans, audio and video commentaries and content collected from participants including academics, visitors, school children and others.
At the heart of the aims and objectives of the Poltimore Community Landscape Project is encouraging community participation in the research of Poltimore and its wider landscape. We are inviting local schools to participate and we are also looking for volunteers, no previous experience required, to assist with investigation of the ‘above-ground’ archaeology which will include earthworks and hedgerows surveys. In addition, volunteers will also have the opportunity to learn traditional historical research techniques such as the use of maps and estate records. Throughout the project, we will be offering training events for interested groups/individuals that will equip participants with the skills and confidence to conduct similar research.
We would like to invite members of the Devon History Society to learn more about the history and archaeology of Poltimore and to gain new skills in landscape archaeology or put their current research skills in to practice. We are having a Project launch at Poltimore House on 11th – 12th September, 11am-4pm where visitors can meet Project staff and find out more about the volunteering opportunities.
If you would like more information about the project then contact Dr Penny Cunningham at firstname.lastname@example.org or Tel: 01392 264349
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