The Castle Lecture: Sensing Place Heritage, Renewal and New Public Realms

On March 11th 2021 Lancaster University’s Department of English and Creative writing hosted its inaugural Castle Lecture in association with the Northern Premodern Seminar Series. Due to the pandemic, this event was held online rather than at Lancaster Castle as originally intended.

The lecture was given by Professor Catherine Clarke, Director of the Centre for the History of People, Place and Community at the Institute of Historical Research, University of London. A specialist in medieval culture and uses of the past, she has led major research projects in Chester, Swansea and across the March of Wales, and is currently involved in projects on place-making at Alderley Edge, and ‘Towns and the Cultural Economies of Recovery’.

Professor Clarke took as a starting-point the exciting recent refurbishment at Lancaster Castle, exploring the enormous significance of heritage sites for our communities, local economies and ‘sense of place’. From ‘place-making’ agendas to initiatives such as the government’s ‘Towns Fund’ or Historic England’s ‘Historic High Streets’ and ‘Heritage Action Zones’ programmes, our physical heritage is crucial to the identity, resilience and renewal of our places. How can researchers contribute to these agendas to ensure meaningful engagement with our history? And, at a time when we can’t visit many of these sites in person, how can new digital or online tools enable us to gain a ‘sense of place’ virtually? How might a future, hybrid public realm, in which the material and virtual are interwoven, enable us to experience historic places in new ways?

A recording of the lecture can be viewed below: