Academic rigour is a hallmark of the School of History, but this does not mean that our research is only disseminated through books and journals. An increasingly important part of our work is about using our findings and expertise to benefit society as a whole.
The Landscape Group can offer a diverse range of expertise in landscape history, as well as specialist skills such as non-invasive field survey techniques and the use of GIS.
This expertise is drawn from respected academics based in the School of History at the University of East Anglia.
Virtual Past brings together historians from the School of History with cutting-edge virtual reality animators to create historically accurate computer models of people and places for use in the heritage industry and education. Virtual Past combines state-of-the-art computer modelling techniques with historical research to create dynamic new ways to enhance visitor experience of heritage attractions or as the basis for websites.
The Great Hospital
The Great Hospital, Norwich, is a place of unique interest for historians, being the only medieval English hospital to survive with both its fabric and a substantial part of its archive still intact. Yet both remained little known until the Wellcome Trust decided to fund a three-year project into the history of this remarkable institution. Carole Rawcliffe's research resulted in the publication of an academic study of the hospital in 1999, while also providing ample material for a website aimed at a far wider audience. With funding of £14,301 from the AHRC's Knowledge Catalyst Scheme, a grant of £9,534 from the Great Hospital Trustees and £3,000 from Norwich HEART (for a video reconstruction of the hospital as it would have appeared in the fifteenth century), it was possible to create an accessible online resource that could be used by schools, local history groups and tourists, as well as the Hospital itself.
The benefits have been considerable. Since its launch in 2008, the website has attracted over 10,000 visitors. It has been recommended for use in the GCSE Medical History Syllabus, and is widely consulted by students in the USA and Spain, as well as in England. The inclusion of transcripts and images of documents makes it a valuable resource for postgraduate teaching also. In 2011, in recognition of its newly recognised status, the Hospital archive (in the Norfolk Record Office) became the only collection of its kind to be admitted by UNESCO to the Memory of the World Register. The Hospital has now created a heritage centre of its own, where the website plays an integral role in the visitor experience, enabling us to understand what life - and death - was like for the sick in medieval England.
The Walberswick Project
During the Second World War Britain's coastline was the front line in the fight against Nazi Germany. Little now remains of these wartime defences, but the Walberswick project recreated the lost defence landscape at a small village on the Suffolk coast. The results of the project can be seen on a website, the centrepiece of which are four computer reconstructions of the military defences constructed in 1940 when the Suffolk coast was seen as a likely target for German invasion.
The website also contains interactive maps, primary documents and an extensive historical commentary on home defence during the Second World War. An education pack provides teaching resources designed to be cross-curricular and incorporates elements of history, geography, English, ICT, literacy and citizenship. Much of the information for the website came from local people and the partner organisations now responsible for the management of the historic countryside.
The website was launched in October 2009 and received coverage on both national radio and regional television. Within the first month, 45,000 hits had been received on the site. Such was the success that a substantial quantity of oral history material on Second World War defences was received as feedback and this was incorporated into a new section on the website.
The project was short-listed for the ‘Best Representation of Archaeology in the Media' category in the 2011 British Archaeological Awards and also received a CUE East Enterprise and Engagement Award. The project also acted as a platform for a major research award from the European Union Inter-Reg IV programme involving ten partners from four European partner countries - UK, France, Belgium and the Netherlands. This research funding will facilitate the dissemination of information on Second World War defences on both sides of the channel and promote sustainable tourism across the European Union.