Landscape Archaeology and Countryside Conservation: The Use of Oral Histories to Challenge the Science of the Countryside

Dr David C. Harvey
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In the context of recent media, governmental, academic and popular attention and enthusiasm for debates surrounding the construction and meaning of the British countryside, this paper outlines the potential for oral history to make a contribution. Working mostly in Devon, the authors outline how an oral history methodology can engage with the fields of archaeological science and heritage management of landscape resources from the past, before outlining how such lay narratives may also inform present policies for the landscapes of the future. On the one hand, the authors note the important role of oral histories in animating existing scientific narratives of the agricultural landscape. Crucially, however, moving from practices of scientific complicity, towards one of critical engagement, the paper argues that oral histories may also challenge the authority of such scientific knowledge, serving to destabilize existing assumptions, and offer more complex, meaningful and community-led narratives of landscape.

Keywords: Oral Histories, Landscape Archaeology, Countryside Conservation Policies
Stream: History, Historiography
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: A paper has not yet been submitted.

Dr David C. Harvey

Lecturer in Historical Cultural Geography, Department of Geography School of Geography, Archaeology and Earth Resources, University of Exeter

Ref: H05P0003