On Shared Ground: networks and encounters around the margins of community heritage

Lead Research Organisation: University of Sheffield
Department Name: Archaeology


On shared ground, why do some people participate in heritage projects and others do not? How can groups extend their communities of participation through their existing networks? How can groups communicate with and potentially work with people who may share their ground but not their interests or values? 'On Shared Ground: networks and encounters around the margins of community heritage' unites academics from a range of disciplines with community groups to work through these questions. Research will take place on three hills, in three different countries. Academics from The University of Sheffield, Cardiff University and The University of Aberdeen will work with three community groups to map existing networks and facilitate new encounters in order to identify and potentially work with those in and around the margins of community heritage.

The research has developed in response to an identified need by participating community groups to tackle the abuse and misuse of heritage landscapes whilst simultaneously promoting the care and use of these spaces. Working with communities on each site, academics will work with groups to map their existing networks and foster dialogues with other users of the landscapes. This will be achieved through a series of improvised activities on the sites, where community groups will potentially 'encounter' other users. These encounters will be recorded using a variety of methods drawn from the research expertise of participating academics and informed by the practice and experience of the project artist.

Planned Impact

It is anticipated that this project will have impact in both academic and community contexts. It will advance current community heritage models by enabling and promoting the ability for community partners to further collaborate and co-produce research with groups beyond their immediate networks or in the 'margins' of their communities. By testing this approach across three sites, in three countries, this project is designed to serve as a pilot for further development of existing community heritage models. We will:

1. Generate new knowledge and approaches through a series of workshops with community groups at three sites.

Workshops will unite researchers from different disciplines with community groups in order to explore the efficacy of a range of creative techniques and research methodologies in opening up new interpretations and experiences of heritage sites. The content generated during these workshops and subsequent autonomous activities, led by the community groups, will be collated by the project artist into a short-film.

2. Enhance the research capacity, knowledge and skills of our community partners and their ability to connect with the wider community.

Community participants will be introduced to a range of research methodologies and approaches as well as a host of techniques with which to record their involvement with the project, ranging from visual and textual contributions to the project blog and the use of audio-visual technologies to more traditional research methods, such as ethnographic field notes. Following workshops, groups will be encouraged to work independently. They will be given three weeks to work with specialist equipment, gather material and apply the research skills they have acquired during the workshops. Our workshops will explore 'networks' and 'encounters'. By mapping existing networks and relationships to the space we will work with groups to identify the dominant users and related narratives associated with this use. Facilitating 'encounters' will connect the participants, and in turn, the research, with parts of the community and users of the sites we are yet to identify.

3. Log our methods and processes in a variety of media: online, in film and in a co-authored article.

The project blog will serve as a place for investigators, project participants and the project artist to record field notes as well as other visual and textual records. We will encourage the use of video and audio clips as well as visual imagery with a view to creating a digital scrapbook of contributions from community participants from across the three sites. The dynamic and immediate nature of the project blog will also encourage those beyond the project team and identified community groups to contribute to the project and record their involvement or 'encounters'. This web resource will also serve as a useful tool of reference for other academics and heritage professionals as well as individuals and communities interested in heritage research. The site will also be promoted via social media platforms and shared more broadly across academic and community contacts established by each HEI. The film will knit together footage from the three sites and will be edited in consultation with community participants in Sheffield. The final film will be shown at an open-air screening in Wincobank which will be attended by academics and community partners from Cardiff and Aberdeen. The film will subsequently be hosted on the website and promoted widely across our networks. A co-authored article reflecting on the methodologies, processes and findings in the context of existing approaches to community heritage will represent the academic output of the project. It is anticipated that all of the investigators and the project artist will contribute. It is hoped that community participants will also contribute to the article.


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Title On Shared Ground Film 
Description A film made by Paul Evans and Jon Harrison drawing on footage and recordings collected during research events in Sheffield, Cardiff and Aberdeen. The film explores, through visual imagery, poetry and oral histories, connections and associations to the hill forts at each location. The film also addresses tensions within and between communities regarding the use and abuse of the heritage sites. 
Type Of Art Film/Video/Animation 
Year Produced 2014 
Impact This film has been screened at each location and is also available to view online. The film has helped connect communities across the three sites we were working in as well as raise issues and concerns within and between communities regarding the way that the hill forts are used and valued in each community. The visual imagery in the film presents striking visual comparisons between the sites - asking the viewer to reflect on the similarities and differences between each hill fort. 
URL https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AjaXgUZduUU&feature=youtu.be
Title On Shared Ground Leaflet 
Description A small booklet showcasing poetry and spoken word recollections from community participants involved in the project. The poems and transcriptions were accompanied by original photographs taken by the project artist, Paul Evans. 
Type Of Art Creative Writing 
Year Produced 2014 
Impact This booklet was used to provide participants at each site, in Sheffield, Cardiff and Aberdeen with insights into understandings of heritage sites in each community. The publication was also distributed at the AHRC Festival in Cardiff in July 2014 and distributed at screenings in Cardiff in July, Sheffield in September and Aberdeen in October 2014. 
URL http://issuu.com/rchsheff/docs/sharedground_dust/0
Description Ways in which to use arts methodologies to explore issues relating to heritage and social cohesion.
Exploitation Route To be further developed to explore how arts methodologies can be used in heritage research in relation to issues around social cohesion.
Sectors Communities and Social Services/Policy,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections

URL http://communityheritage.group.shef.ac.uk/projects/on-shared-ground/
Description On Shared Ground: Networks and Encounters on the Margins of Community Heritage, Talk, AHRC Heritage Network, Lincoln. 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact This talk reflected on the research methodologies employed during the project, in particular the use of film and visual methods to record and share experiences across and within communities. It proposed that these methods helped to facilitate the sharing of knowledge and expertise between academics, community researchers and the project artist as well as involve community participants outside of established networks, in order to create a more nuanced reading of the heritage sites.

Subsequent discussions raised issues around the need to return to the sites and community organisations to conduct in-depth evaluations of these activities and their potential impact within the communities. This has informed future plans.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cRT4zAKrHr4&feature=youtu.be
Description Workshops and Research Findings 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact A range of disciplinary methods were employed, drawing on the experience of the research teams across the three HEIs, including history, archaeology, visual and conceptual art and its histories, filmmaking and creative writing. These disciplinary perspectives informed the proposed activities in the workshops. Dr Jeff Oliver's former research on the relationship between graffiti and archaeology, for example, offered a valuable theoretical backdrop to an exploration of illegal activity in the context of a heritage site (Oliver et al, 2010).

Activities were split into two broad categories, of 'networks' and 'encounters'. The core project team consisting of Marwood and Paul Evans, a Sheffield based artist and lead artist on the CAER Heritage Project, visited the three sites. In order to identify the extent of community 'networks' within and beyond local communities, we worked with community participants to create visual and textual maps, an activity based on HEART of Cardiff workshops, designed by Paul Evans and delivered as part of the CAER Heritage Project. These maps were augmented with personalised layers of reflections, memories and anecdotes. These personalised cartographies informed the 'encounters'. An 'encounter' can be serendipitous and unexpected, or adversarial, resulting in conflict or tension. The 'encounters' were improvised activities including the creation of texts and poems, group drawings, scrapbooks, photographs and audio recordings, devised by the groups in collaboration with the lead artist and inspired by a range of research and methodologies used by the project team, including those of phenomenology, psychogeography and walking, surrealist strategies of wandering, night-walking and the situationist derive.

Community participants were also encouraged to document and creatively interpret these encounters in a range of ways. They were trained, for example, in the use of Go-Pro sports cameras to record a first person experience of each site and their encounters with other users of the sites. These activities were complimented by professional film documentation by local film-makers: Jon Harrison from Lovebytes, Sheffield, who worked with members of Friends of Wincobank Hill on their HLF All Our Stories project, and Viv Richards, a professionally trained cameraman and community volunteer who has worked with the CAER Heritage Project. Other material from these workshops and encounters was published throughout the duration of the project via the RCH website, and disseminated via social media platforms, such as Twitter. Footage and documentation generated in the workshops was brought together in an edited film by the artist in collaboration with the Sheffield group. The final edit, a 15 minute film, featuring an innovative mix of film styles and documentary techniques was shown at each site and in a final public screening in Sheffield where participants from all sites were invited to visit.

We built on established relationships between HEIs and community groups and organisations during the Research for Community Heritage projects. In Cardiff, we worked with Action in Caerau and Ely (ACE). ACE was set up to support the Welsh Government's Tackling Poverty agenda and develops and delivers a range of projects and activities to help regenerate and improve the communities of Ely and Caerau. They have access to a diverse network of community groups together with invaluable local knowledge. For the purposes of this project, ACE identified the newly formed Friends of Caerau as a group to work with. In Sheffield, Friends of Wincobank Hill (FoWH) were our key community partner. FoWH have already worked with the Department of Archaeology at Sheffield and members of the group have worked closely with Dr Marwood to develop their HLF All Our Stories project. In Aberdeen, we worked with The Bailies of Bennachie, a voluntary conservation society, whose activities, like FOWH, straddle the general maintenance and preservation of the sites, through the prevention of litter and vandalism, and the promotion and research of its history.

Artist, Paul Evans was also a key community partner and valuable member of the research team and assisted to reinforce the connections established between Sheffield and Cardiff during the CAER Heritage Project research visit to Sheffield and in subsequent discussions with Friends of Wincobank Hill.

At the first workshop we had upwards of 30 participants over 3 hours. They included members of FoWH, friends, locals and others who had heard a broadcast from researchers on BBC Radio Sheffield. We presented the group with a large scale OS map, printed on an AO foam board. Participants were also asked to record memories and stories and add them to a timeline using string, post-it notes and luggage tags.

The second workshop in Sheffield involved participants revisiting the memory map we had made in previous workshops and plotting a route around the site which incorporated the areas and features highlighted by participants. Once the walk had been plotted by the group we walked up to the hill fort, recording our journey using hand-held audio devices and Go-Pro cameras. Each participant spent time highlighting areas of the hill fort that held particular importance to them. Participants were also encouraged by the project artist to take photographs and footage of the hill fort to be used in the film. The project artist also asked participants to write poetry and haikus that reflected their experiences of the hill fort or living in Wincobank. We repeated the techniques trialled in Sheffield in Cardiff - asking participants to write down their memories and pin them to the map. The same activity was repeated with participants in Bennachie who added memories to the map and recorded a series of oral histories to be used in the film. This was followed by a guided walk which was recorded using Go-Pro cameras with additional camerawork by Jon Harrison.

An early edit of the film was then screened in Cardiff on the Caerau Hill fort. This offered a valuable opportunity for participants to give feedback on the film before the final edits were made.

A series of exchange visits were also organised. Four members of Friends of Wincobank Hill visited Caerau Hill Fort to meet the research team, local people and participate in the archaeological dig. Following the success of the visit to Cardiff, community partners and researchers were invited to visit the hill fort at Wincobank and participate in a guided tour led by Friends of Wincobank Hill.

The workshops have led to communities reflecting on their own heritage sites as well as discovering more about similar communities and hill forts. Based on these reflections the project team are writing an article which examines the way in which communities engage with archaeological landscapes and historical sites in differing ways. The article is collaboration between Dr Kimberley Marwood (University of Sheffield) and Dr Oliver Davis (University of Cardiff). The article is currently in progress and will be published as part of a collection of essays exploring the legacy of heritage projects in the AHRC Connected Communities programme (in progress est. pub 2015). The article will also be accompanied by original photography taken by artist, Paul Evans.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014