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South West Heritage Trust launches new Lockdown Lecture series for February and March

University of Exeter partner, The South West Heritage Trust, is launching a Zoom ‘Lockdown Lecture Series’ for history fans throughout February and March. The programme will feature speakers covering topics such as literature and landscape, with a range from the Romans to the Regency period.

South West Heritage Trust was founded in 2014 as an independent charity for Somerset, Devon and the South West. Their aim is to celebrate and protect the rich heritage of the South West. Operating across six main sites, they deliver a wide range of heritage experiences for people of all ages. As well as the widely praised Museum of Somerset and the redeveloped Somerset Rural Life Museum, in Glastonbury, the Trust manages state-of-the-art facilities in Taunton and Exeter to care for the extraordinary archive collections of the two counties. The Trust also provides essential advice about the historic environment and manages historic sites. Alongside their partnership with the University of Exeter, South West Heritage work with partners such as Arts Council England and the Heritage Lottery Fund.

The programme will consist of two lectures a month, all starting at 7:30pm. The sessions are great opportunities to hear from academics, writers and historians about a range of topics. They begin on 3 February with writer and poet James Crowden, who has produced a literary roadmap of Somerset that covers more than 300 writers. In his talk he will explore the county’s literary past from Roman times, through Anglo-Saxon Wessex, up to the present day.

Then, on 18 February, journalist Martin Hesp will present an evening of entertaining and uplifting stories about Somerset’s diverse landscapes. He will recount anecdotes from 40 years of walking and writing in the West Country.

On 4 March, Professor Stephen Rippon, a Landscape Archaeologist at the University of Exeter,will discuss the South West in the Roman period with a focus on the Blackdown and Quantock Hills. This lecture outlines some of the results of Professor Rippon’s Exeter: A Place in Time project, that is published this year. It will show how the Roman-period landscape across the South West Peninsula (the modern counties of Cornwall and Devon) was very different in character to that further east (in what is now Dorset and Somerset). This reflects how communities living in the South West retained a distinctive and more traditional identity during the period when Britain was part of the Roman Empire, in contrast to communities further east that appear to have been more enthusiastic in embracing a Roman identity.

Finally, on 18 March, historian and author Dr Ian Mortimer will offer a chance to engage with the sights, sounds, smells and experiences of Regency Britain, by exploring his most recent book, The Time Traveller's Guide to Regency Britain (2020).

The trust has found several innovative ways to maintain Heritage practice and engagement during the Covid-19 pandemic. Alongside the lecture series, you can access art collections, films and digital exhibitions via the ‘Discovering Heritage Online’ page on the South West Heritage website. The ‘Reaching for Rainbows: Somerset in Lockdown’ exhibition by photographer Jason Bryant, for example, documents the events of 2020 and the stories of individuals and families living in Somerset. It begins with the announcement of the first national lockdown in March 2020 and is continuing into this year. Alongside this, through the Coronavirus Community Archive, you can send in your stories and experiences and be part of a community during these difficult times.  

Tickets for the lecture series can be purchased via Eventbrite. The trust is offering three ticket types for this event, ranging in price from £5-£10. To become a supporter of The South West Heritage Trust please see: