Swansea academic brings Chester’s medieval past into the present

 Dr Catherine Clarke from the College of Arts and Humanities at Swansea University has received an Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) Knowledge Transfer Fellowship to the value of £172k to develop a Knowledge Transfer project titled 'Discover Medieval Chester.’

Through a partnership with the Grosvenor Museum, (Chester's history museum) and other heritage bodies, the project intends to promote the rich history of medieval Chester as a multi-cultural, multi-lingual frontier city.

'Discover Medieval Chester' aims to make the vibrant, multi-cultural heritage of medieval Chester more visible and accessible to both residents and visitors alike and will build on the research innovation of Dr Clarke’s previous AHRC funded collaborative research project titled, ‘Mapping Medieval Chester' (www.medievalchester.ac.uk).

‘Mapping Medieval Chester’ brought together a new digital atlas of the city from around 1500, interlinked with medieval textual 'mappings' of the city (in English, Latin and Welsh) showing how different cultural and ethnic communities interacted and understood the urban space around them.

‘Discover Medieval Chester’ will build on this research, sharing it with wider audiences and delivering cultural, social and economic benefits for local communities, tourists and even remote virtual visitors to the city.

Knowledge Transfer Fellow and Senior Lecturer in English at Swansea University, Dr Catherine Clarke said ‘This project demonstrates the real relevance and value of cutting-edge research in the humanities to wider audiences. “Discover Medieval Chester” will break new ground in the dissemination of academic research, by integrating digital resources, public exhibitions and a major art installation.’

Future project developments include a new website centred on an interactive map of medieval Chester, overlaid onto the modern city, with a set of audio-visual resources attached to each key location or feature, allowing users to explore the medieval city and the different cultural perspectives within it, and to download customisable, 'bespoke' tours.

Other activities include a major exhibition at the Grosvenor Museum, Chester, which will transfer to Wrexham Museum and later become a smaller, permanent exhibition in Chester. Finally, a permanent public artwork has been commissioned to represent and 'signpost' the medieval heritage of Chester in order to engage visitors and the local community.



The artwork is a particularly innovative and exciting part of the project and benefits from additional funding from Cheshire West and Chester Council, Chester Renaissance and Arts Council England. The first phase is already underway, working towards a permanent lighting installation, which will illuminate the medieval ruins at St John's Church. Ideas being explored by the artist include projecting fragments of the medieval texts from 'Mapping Medieval Chester' onto the ruins.

Head of the Research Institute of Arts and Humanities, Professor Chris Williams said, Dr Clarke's research team is contributing in a highly significant and original way to the understanding of the medieval city, at the same time making this scholarship available to the general public in accessible and exciting ways. This could well be a model for other cities to follow.”

The ‘Discover Medieval Chester’ research partnership includes academics from Queens University, Belfast and King’s College, London and non higher- education partners include the Grosvenor Museum, Chester, Cheshire West and Chester Unitary Authority. Catherine Clarke is the Knowledge Transfer Fellow and will lead the research team that includes Keith Lilley (Queens University, Belfast) and Paul Vetch (King’s College, London) who are both Co-investigators on the project. More information about ‘Discover Medieval Chester’ is currently available in the Blog at www.medievalchester.ac.uk: its own website will launch soon.

For more information about the project log on to: www.medievalchester.ac.uk