Within the Walls: Heritage Values and the Historic City

A Collaborative PhD project in the Historic City of York, UK

What’s happening this November?

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The Within the Walls team are hosting several events next month as part of the Being Human Festival—the UK’s first national celebration of the humanities (www.beinghumanfest.org):


Hello, I’m here to report on the activities we’re inviting you to attend, based at Kings Manor during the Being Human Festival.  I’m not crazy about press releases (they don’t really explain what’s happening) so I will indulge in a little promotional explanation here. And to start it off, here’s a statement I enjoy thoroughly:

“York is a city of complex, layered and cacophonous history.  The past clamours for attention, from the rich archaeology preserved in its anaerobic soil to its stock of medieval monuments and major archive collections, from the architecture of Georgian society to the invention of the Kit-Kat.”

Vicky Hoyle wrote it for our application to the Being Human Festival back in March. And since then we’ve been thinking of ways we can explore the ‘noisiness’ of York’s history. So, for the first part of our event we’ve asked fellow researchers and practitioners to take part in our ‘Exploring the Past’ exhibition (Kings Manor Refectory 17th-22nd), presenting a variety of projects that have taken place in York in the last 3years. These come from the work of the York Living with Heritage Project, the York Minster, the Gateway to History Projectthe Heritage Jam, IPUP, the Centre of Medieval Studies, and many more. It’s staggering how much happens in York in the way of accounting for history and heritage; each project takes a different angle, explores different issues and connects with different people. This diversity raises the question—why does heritage matter to so many people, and is York’s heritage special?

York, Stonegate (Kat Keljik)

York, Stonegate (Kat Keljik)

Tucking into the meatiness of this question, we also have a line-up of 6 speakers over four public seminars (aka Sandwich Seminars), all of whom have had different approaches and ideas of how people interact with heritage. We’re hoping to encourage some discussions at the end of each session about why it is so important to think about the past in such diverse ways, and what’s in it for us? The line-up is as follows:

  1. Mon 17th-“Community Heritage and the Homeless” Dr John Schofield, Dept. of Archaeology, University of York (1-2pm Room: K/133)
  2. Tues 18th– “The York Living With Heritage Project” Dr Helen Graham, University of Leeds, York Alternative History Group and York Past and Present Group (1-2pm Room: K/133)
  3. Tues 18th– [YOHRS Seminar] “Place and Past: landscape/heritage synergies” Graham Fairclough, University of Newcastle (5:15-6:30pm Room: K/111)
  4. Wed 19th– “Commemoration and Public History” Dr Geoff Cubitt- Dept of History, University of York (1-2pm Room: K/159).

And for our final public event, “Play with the Past” (Saturday 22nd 2pm-4pm, Huntingdon Room) we’ll be exploring how the relationship between humans and their heritage in terms of physical interaction within a digital age. During the open-afternoon workshop we invite people to curate their own heritage exhibition using our Pinterest board, and to graffiti our papier-mâché buildings. We’re also delighted to be joined by the York Tactile Mapping Project, whose work focuses on breaking down barriers of engagement with York’s heritage for blind and partially sighted members of the community. The team will also be on hand to discuss these activities. Families with children are welcome, refreshments will also be available.

So there we are, that’s the line-up, we hope you can join us to get involved in the noisiness of York’s past and to muse about why this matters. Please feel free to get in touch if you have any questions via wtwyork@gmail.com.



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