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Enroled…Thank you so much! Let’s keep the adventure going…

So now I’m back in the fold of the academic community.

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And I wouldn’t be here with the help of the online community of people who may never have met me, but have read my posts on this blog and felt able to contribute to funding my research.

Am I nervous about restarting? Yes. But, having been able to keep a toe in academia through attending conferences and seeing material published in books and journals whilst I have been a little bit out of the loop is very comforting.

Time I feel to provide a comprehensive update of what I am writing about and why it needs to be done.

My PhD will consist of four chapters when completed. These will be:

1. Introduction to the topic and previous research undertaken.

2. Parks

3. Gardens

4. Temporary and Permanent Designed Landscapes

In addition to these, there is a Bibliography and a Gazetteer – created so each landscape component can be entered onto either a regional or national archaeological database.

Some of the people mentioned in the research will be be very familiar to you. The ‘big’ names like Owain Glyn Dŵr or Edward I make an appearance, but not as the leader of a rebellion, or as ‘The Hammer of the Scots’, but rather as men who created landscapes to enjoy with their families and utilise for economic gain.

I’m also writing about men like Reginald Balle, who lived in the village of Hope in north east Wales (Longitude: 53.118235; Latitude: -3.0328984) during the middle of the fourteenth century and how he profited from the creation of a brand new park just outside the village. And the numerous un-named servants who for 15 days in May, for at least a century and probably much longer, would have to climb trees to capture fledgling sparrowhawks in Pennant Lliw, near Llanuwchllyn in central north Wales (Longitude: 52.876692; Latitude: -3.744210).

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You may have visited some the places I’m writing about, for example Conwy castle (Longitude: 53.280082; Latitude: -3.825695) on the shore of the Conwy Estuary and the River Gyffin. Others, however are a bit further off the beaten track, like Hornspike on the Wales-England border Longitude: 52.903693; Latitude: -2.775291).

This research needs to be done for the simple reason that it has never been done before in a complete way. This research pulls together information from many different sources in three different languages and helps archaeologists, historians and literature specialists all work together to look at this area of the country.

So, please, if you enjoy my blog and would like to help. Either share the link for my blog, or if you are able to contribute then you can do so at: http://www.gofundme.com/medievalgardensandparks

Thank you…and enjoy watching the work unfold here.

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Taking Stock…

It has been a month since I set up my gofundme page at: http://www.gofundme.com/medievalgardensandparks and in that time 25 people have donated £620 – almost a third of my target. I’m incredibly grateful to everyone who has donated and hope that the next few months will be as successful in helping me reach my target and complete my research.

I start next month at Manchester Metropolitan University, and I’m really looking forward to being able to fully access a learning environment again. Since 2007, when I suspended my studies at the University of East Anglia in order to get a full time job after first being made redundant and then working on a short contract writing a book, it has been difficult operating on the periphery of academia looking in.

During the intervening period I’ve seen fellow PhD students who began their research at the same time as me complete their studies and secure teaching posts. They have been unfailing in their support for me and my lonely niche furrow!

When I’ve been able to attend conferences in this intervening period I’ve met students from Universities all over Europe, North America and Australasia involved in unpicking the various strands of history and archaeology, and seeing how all our individual stories weave together to help understand the medieval world (and beyond).

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Peacock at Cardiff Castle – one of the photographs that reminds me how diverse my topic is

I hope the blog to date has provided you with some food for thought, and in case you haven’t seen the other work I’ve written recently, you might want to have a look at:

http://beyondborders-medievalblog.blogspot.co.uk/2013/08/love-like-hare-monuments-and.html
Where I discuss (very briefly) the research I’ve been undertaking on Medieval Grave Slabs and the Poetry connected to them.

and:

http://www.anthropologiesproject.org/2013/07/one-mans-pieces-of-war.html
Which is something I am working on with my family to turn a series of photographs, letters and other ephemera into a book on my Taid’s (paternal grandfather’s) experiences in World War II.

I hope you enjoy the blog, and if you want to donate to help support my research in North Wales and North West Shropshire, thank you.