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'Medieval Perceptions of Landscape - How did people in Medieval Cornwall perceive their environment?' Hosted by the Centre for Environmental Arts and Humanities

Meeting co-organised by the Landscape Research Group (LRG) and the Medieval Settlement Research Group (MSRG)

Date25 - 26 April 2013
Time9:00 to 17:15
PlacePeter Lanyon Building

Hosted by the Centre for Environmental Arts and Humanities, University of Exeter, Cornwall Campus, Tremough, Penryn (near Falmouth).

To find out more about the Centre for Environmental Arts and Humanities visit: www.exeter.ac.uk/esi/research/ceah/

The Landscape Research Group (LRG) and the Medieval Settlement Research Group (MSRG) each sponsor a number of events every year to promote discussion and debate in the field of landscape. The LRG, a charity founded in 1967, aims to promote research and understanding of the landscape for public benefit. It is concerned with all types and aspects of landscape, from wilderness and cultural landscapes to the built environment, and strives to stimulate research, transfer knowledge, encourage the exchange of ideas and promote practices which engage with landscape and environment. The MSRG (established in November 1986 from an amalgamation of the Medieval Village Research Group founded 1952 and the Moated Sites Research Group founded 1971) is a multi-disciplinary group that facilitates collaboration between archaeologists, historians, geographers and other interested parties dedicated to 'medieval landscape history' and to developing understanding of the patterns, nature and history of settlement.

The two organisations share a concern for interdisciplinary integration, and for working with all aspects of the human engagement with the environment and with landscape. This joint conference capitalises on this similarity of interests, and brings the various disciplines involved into a more integrated dialogue. It addresses itself to historical geographers and medieval-period landscape archaeologists, to local historians, cultural geographers, ecologists and other landscape specialists, who in their different ways all see the relevance of ‘landscape ways of seeing’ to understanding and appreciating our world, past and present.

The conference is framed as an exploration of the relationships between landscape research as a whole, which is not always fully historically-informed, with the particular strand of historically informed,archaeological and local ways of understanding landscape, which are not always explicitly landscape-focussed. We hope to open windows on the further study of landscape’s past not merely in terms of landscape history but in terms of the prehistory of the concept of landscape itself. Despite what the OED appears to say, ‘Landscape’ was not invented by Dutch or Italian painters and their patrons but has probably already existed in human mentality, almost unarguably in the Early Modern and Medieval periods. ‘Settlement’ too can be taken not to mean not simply the site of some houses,but all aspects of the ways in which people lived in and on the land, and how they embodied landscapes in their lives.

Landscape, in the words of the widely accepted European Landscape Convention, is ‘an area as perceived by people’. This conference will explore in the context of Cornwall (and Devon) how medieval and early modern people created ‘landscape’ through their perceptions of the world. But how can we excavate, uncover or recover past perceptions, how can we ‘see’ our predecessors’ landscapes as well as ‘preceding landscapes’?

On the second day a field excursion to Godolphin will provide an opportunity to think about these questions on the ground in the context of Godolphin, a complex medieval settled, farmed, mined and (re)designed landscape.


The cost of the conference is being generously subsidised by the University of Exeter, but there is a small registration fee of £20 and the number of places is limited to about 35 including the speakers. So it is necessary to reserve a place by completing the form provided, and sending it to Jay Pengelly by post or email. Cheques (for £20, made payable to the 'University of Exeter') must be sent by post. Please send completed registration forms and cheques to: Jay Pengelly, Administrator, College of Humanities,University of Exeter, Room A140 Peter Lanyon Building, Tremough Campus, Penryn, Cornwall, TR10 9EZ. Email: j.m.pengelly@exeter.ac.uk


Bed and Breakfast accommodation is available on campus for £32.50 (single) or £41.00 (double) per night. To book accommodation please email: events.coordinator@fxplus.ac.uk and remember to include LANDSCAPES 2013 in your subject box.

For further information please contact: Peter Herring, Peter.Herring@english-heritage.org.uk Graham Fairclough, graham.fairclough@newcastle.ac.uk or Nicola Whyte N.M.Whyte@exeter.ac.uk

ProviderGeneral University news and events
OrganizerCentre for Environmental Arts and Humanities
LandscapeConference2013BookingForm.docMedieval Perceptions of Landscape conference booking form (22K)
MedievalPerceptionsofLandscapeinCornwall_20April_2025_202013_20Falmouth_2.pdfMedieval Perceptions of Landscape conference programme (350K)

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