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The University of Chester’s Archaeology unit is among the youngest and most energetic centres for archaeological research in the UK, having made its first REF return in 2014.  Research is undertaken by staff situated in the Department of History and Archaeology, part of the School of Humanities within the University’s Faculty of Arts and Humanities.

A triad of research clusters has been established, which encapsulates and supports disciplinary and interdisciplinary research endeavours.

  • Giving Voice: Diverse Narratives of People, Places, and Objects, 
  • Memory and Mortality: Death, Burial and Commemoration,
  • People and Place: Past Landscapes and Environments.

The University’s targeted research funding has been bolstered by external funders including: NERC/ORAU, European Research Council, English Heritage and The National Lottery Heritage Fund.

6 staff were identified as having significant responsibility for research in REF2021, leading to a requirement for 15 outputs to be submitted.

Research outputs submitted to REF2021 are included in the History and Archaeology Collection of ChesterRep, the University of Chester’s online research repository. 

The impact of research in this unit was exemplified through the following case studies:

Experiencing the Stone Age: transforming engagement with the Mesolithic archaeology of Lunt Meadows Nature Reserve: Research undertaken within this unit has been used to transform the ways in which a wildlife trust (LWT) engages audiences with the Mesolithic archaeology on their newest nature reserve. The impact of this work is demonstrated through: a change in practice within LWT and the adoption of a new public engagement strategy for the archaeology at Lunt Meadows; capacity building within the organisation and training of the LWT staff and volunteers to deliver this strategy; a change in practice within local primary schools, through the adoption of a strategy and resources for teaching about the Stone Age, developed in partnership with LWT; an increased  awareness,  knowledge  and  understanding  of  the  British  Mesolithic  among LWT staff and volunteers, primary school teachers, and visitors to the reserve; and Increased feelings of mindfulness and wellbeing among LWT staff, volunteers, and event participants.

Medieval Monuments in the Marches: Transforming Policy, Practices & Perceptions: Research within this unit has fostered and transformed heritage policy and practice for, as well as public perceptions of and engagement with, the distinctive medieval monuments in the Welsh Marches.  Drawing on ground-breaking interdisciplinary research, activities focused on: supporting a North Wales museum and the Welsh Government’s historic environment service in researching, managing, conserving and interpreting the Pillar of Eliseg; researching and interpreting the rediscovered ‘Smiling Abbot’ funerary monument; establishing and developing the Offa’s Dyke Collaboratory to promote and foster new research and public engagements with Wat’s Dyke and Offa’s Dyke; and challenging popular misconceptions of these borderland monuments in the context of resurgent nationalist politics and the divergent COVID-19 pandemic lockdown strategies for England and Wales.

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