Hamilton Chapter - Archaeology and Wellbeing: Exploring the therapeutic impact of prehistoric landscapes in the present-day

  • October 17, 2019
  • 7:30 PM
  • Fieldcote Memorial Park & Museum, Ancaster

Speaker: Claire Nolan, Doctoral researcher, University of Reading

Topic: Archaeology and Wellbeing: Exploring the therapeutic impact of prehistoric landscapes in the present-day

Over the past 15 years heritage professionals and researchers in the UK have been called upon increasingly to evidence the social value of heritage and the historic environment. More recently, this area of research has become particularly focused on the role of heritage in the promotion of wellbeing.  Previous studies have demonstrated that heritage-involvement can be therapeutic, especially in the way it brings people together around a common interest or equips volunteers with new skills. However, the degree to which heritage assets in themselves directly influence individual wellbeing is less well-understood. Consequently, this uncertainty begs the question of whether, in fact, the historic environment has anything unique to contribute in the way of therapeutic impact.

This talk will examine these issues through a review of qualitative research recently undertaken in the Stonehenge and Avebury World Heritage Site (WHS) and the Vale of Pewsey, Wiltshire, UK, to investigate how individuals experience, interpret and value these prehistoric landscapes. Drawing on results from interviews with residents of the area, and reflective workshops with student and community groups, the talk considers some of the material and symbolic ways in which archaeology can help to facilitate wellbeing.
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