Material Cultures and Landscapes – Living Legacies 1914-18

Material Cultures and Landscapes

World War 1 had a profound impact on localities and landscapes right across Britain and Ireland.

The Living Legacies 1914-18 public engagement centre has a particular interest in studying these impacts of the war on localities and landscapes by looking at their remains in the modern-day countryside and in towns and cities. This is the focus of the Material Cultures and Landscapes theme.

‌Two particular aspects of Material Cultures and Landscapes are being explored during the centenary with community groups and partner organisations:

1. WW1 memorials and monuments, such as war memorials, both official and unofficial, set up during and after WW1, and which today are in need of cataloguing, evaluating, and recording, to contribute to wider studies, such as Historic England’s ‘War Memorials Listing Project’ and the Imperial War Museum’s ‘War Memorials Register’ project.

2. WW1 archaeological sites and landscapes, such as training camps, airfields, wireless stations, munitions factories and transport infrastructure, all of which can be found still today in the landscape and are awaiting discovery and recording to contribute to wider projects, such as the Council for British Archaeology’s ‘Home Front Legacy’ project and the Historic Environment Division (NI) ‘Defence Heritage Project’. 

Living Legacies is able to help community groups undertake research in these two key areas, and together make a significant and lasting contribution to major national centenary programmes.  

To help groups develop new projects, or undertake existing ones, Living Legacies has the expertise in WW1 landscape and field archaeology, and also expertise in WW1 memorials recording and interpretation, including their digitisation.‌Prof Keith Lilley, Dr Gethin Matthews, Megan Ryder and Heather Montgomery are at the core of the Living Legacies team working on Material Cultures and Landscapes, and we are able to draw in other valuable expertise, in areas such as field survey and digitisation methods, to help support community
groups interested in the legacies of WW1 to be found in the
modern-day landscape.‌

Top left: Staff from the Centre for Archaeological Fieldwork (CAF) from Queen’s University Belfast, and some of the volunteers involved in the community excavations undertaken at Ballykinler Training Estate, County Down, during August 2016.
Bottom Right:Thiepval Aerial photograph taken on the 1st June 1916

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