Pilgrimage into the Past: Walking the Medieval March of Wales

Lead Research Organisation: University of Southampton
Department Name: School of Humanities

Abstract

In the late thirteenth century, an unlikely group of pilgrims set off from Swansea for the tomb of St Thomas Cantilupe at Hereford Cathedral. William de Briouze, the Anglo-Norman Lord of Gower, and his wife Lady Mary were accompanied by William Cragh - a Welsh outlaw who had attacked and burned their castle at Oystermouth and had been sentenced to death by hanging. But Cragh's execution had ended unexpectedly: the gallows broke, and he was later restored to life by St Thomas, a former bishop of Hereford. And now Cragh travelled together with Lord and Lady de Briouze to the tomb of this new saint to give thanks for what they understood as a miracle.

The hanging and revival of William Cragh was the focus of a recent AHRC-funded research project, 'City Witness: Place and Identity in Medieval Swansea', which used the story as a starting-point for exploring place, belief and identities in medieval Swansea and the March of Wales. Now, this project will use William Cragh's journey from Swansea to Hereford as inspiration for a new tourism route, giving visitors and local communities the opportunity to step into the rich medieval heritage of the region.

The hybrid driving-walking route will begin in Swansea, where Cragh was hanged, moving on to a series of medieval sites across the Wales-England border region - such as Neath Abbey, Patrishow Church and Goodrich Castle - which will allow us to tell a compelling story about Cragh, St Thomas and the medieval culture of the March of Wales. Mirroring the pilgrimage of Cragh and the de Briouzes, the route will end in Hereford, where the shrine of St Thomas still stands in the medieval cathedral, and other spectacular survivals, such as the Mappa Mundi and medieval books, offer glimpses of their world.

Centred on a partnership between the University of Southampton and Hereford Cathedral, the project will develop exciting, multi-media interpretation resources linked to an interactive online map, as well as a print guide / interpretation booklet. 2020 will see the 700th anniversary of the canonisation of St Thomas, and the new pilgrimage route will form a key element of its commemoration and celebration. Hereford Cathedral will provide in-kind support and use of archive resources (such as the spectacular Mappa Mundi and medieval books) to help enhance the core research produced by the 'City Witness' project.
Visitors exploring the new route - whether driving, walking, or participating 'virtually' via technology - will be able to engage with the multiple layers of heritage in the region, including:

*Immersive engagement with the William Cragh story, interpreted in stages along the route
*Accessible information about historical, cultural and political contexts in the medieval March of Wales
*Detail about St Thomas, his miracles, and the role of faith and popular devotion in medieval culture
*Encounters with historic medieval sites, including locations described by writers such as Gerald of Wales and Walter Map and in documents from Hereford Cathedral and the St Thomas canonisation archive
*Interpretation of the landscape and its cultural meaning
*Spiritual reflections (for participants with a religious faith), composed for each location by senior clergy at Hereford Cathedral
*Multi-media resources, including images, video and audio recordings (for example, the liturgy for St Thomas sung by Hereford Cathedral choir)

The Swansea-Hereford route project seeks to respond to specific needs and challenges identified during and after the 'City Witness' research project, and will bring a range of cultural, wellbeing and economic benefits to visitors and host communities in the region. In particular, it will fold Swansea city centre more firmly into heritage tourism routes in south Wales, increase visitors to Hereford and its cathedral, and develop the potential of small churches / chapels and local historic sites in the region as often under-exploited cultural and tourism assets.

Planned Impact

This project will deliver a range of social, cultural and economic benefits to visitors and communities in the Wales-England border region. The key impact areas and strategies have been identified and developed through consultation with regional stakeholders and policies. The project will:

1. Increase awareness and appreciation of the rich medieval heritage of the March of Wales
2. Fold Swansea into wider heritage tourism routes in south Wales
3. Attract more visitors to Hereford and its cathedral; promote the 700th anniversary of St Thomas Cantilupe's canonisation in 2020 as a tourism event
4. Develop the potential of local churches / historic sites as cultural and tourism assets
5. Bring cultural, wellbeing and economic benefits to visitors and host communities

Small local churches and secular historic sites in the England-Wales border region are a huge heritage / tourism asset, but local communities often lack the infrastructure to promote them effectively. This project will link less-visited sites with well-known tourist locations, developing a coherent narrative and visitor experience to connect them, and providing imaginative interpretation and promotion. This will make a key intervention in tourism capacity-building in the region.

The Visit Wales Cultural Tourism Action Plan (2012) identifies 'religious tourism' as an area 'not currently being exploited to [its] full potential', targeting it as an area for growth. Research underpinning the Plan also highlights 'Sense of Place' as a key attraction for visitors to Wales, which should be developed further. The Wales Faith Tourism Action Plan (2013) sets out the ambition that 'by 2020 faith tourism is recognised as an integral component of the visitor experience in Wales, adding significant value to the destination offer, contributing to the well-being of the visitor and host community and enhancing local, regional and national "Sense of Place"'.

This project will develop the potential of the St Thomas pilgrimage and the rich medieval culture of Wales as a valuable tourism asset. This has demonstrable economic benefits: for example, a recent pilot project to promote 15 places of worship in the Wrexham area brought in 64,404 visitors over 3 years, bringing £1,683,521 to the local economy (Wales Faith Tourism Action Plan, p. 7).

A key target in the Herefordshire Tourism Strategy is the increase of overnight-stay visitors in the area. Currently, 83% of visitors are day visitors, while those who stay overnight in tourist accommodation (11.5%) contribute 64% of all visitor expenditure. We will work with Visit Herefordshire to promote overnight stays in the county.

The AHRC-funded 'City Witness' project which underpins this follow-on bid identified the need for the medieval heritage of Swansea to be marketed more visibly and linked more robustly into wider heritage tourism networks. In partnership with St Mary's, Swansea's civic church, and Swansea Museum, our new route will help to achieve this, further contributing to the economic and cultural regeneration of Swansea city centre.

The 700th anniversary of the canonisation of St Thomas in 2020 will present a powerful multiplier effect, with high-profile events and celebrations (and renewed promotion of the pilgrimage route) to be organised by Hereford Cathedral.

In our partnerships with small local churches and historic sites along the route, we will be responsive to local goals and will align with local tourism and economic priorities. Representatives of local sites will also act as 'Ambassadors', holding information and liaising with visitors. We will also approach Arriva Trains (which run a route from Swansea to Hereford) for support with publicity. We have established relationships with organisations including Hereford Cathedral, Visit Wales, Churches Tourism Network Wales, and Visit Herefordshire to help us deliver our impact plans, through in-kind funding and other support.

Publications

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Title 'Re-Making Maps of the Mind: Medieval & Modern Journeys' touring art exhibition 
Description With additional funding from the University of Southampton's Public Engagement with Research Unit, the St Thomas Way also included a collaboration with an Artist in Residence, Michelle Rumney. Her art exhibition, 'Re-Making Maps of the Mind: Medieval and Modern Journeys', is inspired directly by the project research, and is touring locations along the St Thomas Way and beyond. Host venues to July 2019 include Hereford Cathedral, Abergavenny Priory, St Mary's Church Swansea, St Illtud's Church (with Heritage Centre) Lllantwit Major, Ewenny Priory, Newport Cathedral, Margam Abbey and Caerphilly Castle. With a further grant from Arts Council England, the exhibition was hosted by Lighthouse, Poole's Centre for the Arts, January - February 2019. Public art workshops, engaging participants creatively with themes of place, mapping and pilgrimage, have been held at several host venues, including 5 weekly workshops at Lighthouse, Poole. Lighthouse Poole also used the exhibition to run a Dementia Friendly tour and workshop, piloting their new dementia friendly policy / practice. The project has had a significant impact on the artist Michelle Rumney, enabling her to exhibit to new audiences and to develop her creative practice in new ways. Through its Artist in Residence, the St Thomas Way also partnered with Google, with a special loan of a Google StreetView 360° camera. Michelle produced virtual tours of sites and walking routes on the Way, which are now available in a St Thomas Way feature on Google Maps, one sample entry receiving 3,000 unique views in the first three months 
Type Of Art Artistic/Creative Exhibition 
Year Produced 2018 
Impact - changing understanding for public audiences - access to the arts in communities without arts centres, via touring exhibition (using sites such as churches) - development of Dementia Friendly policy for Poole Lighthouse - professional development for artist Michelle Rumney URLs include: https://michellerumney.com/portfolio/re-making-maps-mind-medieval-modern-journeys/ https://michellerumney.com/portfolio/medieval-modern-journeys-tour/ https://www.lighthousepoole.co.uk/whats-on/2019/michelle-rumney/ 
URL https://michellerumney.com/portfolio/re-making-maps-mind-medieval-modern-journeys/
 
Title Art projects and exhibition / performance by Hereford College of Art 
Description Hereford College of Art worked with the St Thomas Way with all of their students (taking them to locations and working with the St Thomas Way content), culminating in an exhibition and performances at Hereford Cathedral (September 2019). This included an exhibition of student art, light projections across the cathedral, and creative arts performances etc. This was a public event. The exhibition remained in place until 4 November 2019. 
Type Of Art Artistic/Creative Exhibition 
Year Produced 2019 
Impact This creative product was an impact in itself - the St Thomas Way and its resources being picked up for use in arts education and community arts. See also Hereford College webpage here: https://www.hca.ac.uk/event/the-way 
URL https://www.herefordcathedral.org/news/hca-students-show-the-way
 
Title Exhibition of medieval pilgrim badges, Swansea Museum 
Description Swansea Museum put on a small display of medieval pilgrim badges from their collection, together with information about the St Thomas Way, to support the launch of the heritage route. (July -Sept 2018) 
Type Of Art Artistic/Creative Exhibition 
Year Produced 2018 
Impact This allowed Swansea Museum to interpret and display objects usually in storage, and increased public understanding of pilgrimage in the medieval March of Wales. 
 
Description This is not a research grant but a follow-on funding award, so its primary aim is not to deliver new research insights but to achieve wider societal impacts. However, developing the ST Thomas Way has opened up new research questions and insights, and a volume of essays arising from the project ('The St Thomas Way and the Medieval March of Wales: Place, Heritage, Pilgrimage') is already contracted with Arc Humanities Press. The book will be published 30 April 2020.
Exploitation Route The St Thomas Way is already being used as a model for various institutions across the UK involved in organisation of activities to commemorate saints and their anniversaries in 2020. This group is convened at the House of Lords by Lord Cormack. This has helped to develop the English Cathedrals 'Year of English Cathedrals' / 'Year of Pilgrimage' 2020 initiative.
The St Thomas Way book will present the project as a transferable model for connecting communities with heritage.
Sectors Agriculture, Food and Drink,Creative Economy,Environment,Leisure Activities, including Sports, Recreation and Tourism,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections

URL http://thomasway.ac.uk/
 
Description This project has produced a wide range of significant impacts. The St Thomas Way heritage tourism route has transformed public understanding of the medieval March of Wales, and enriched heritage engagement at 13 sites and with multiple local communities along the route. The interactive map at www.thomaswa.ac.uk has had 2,472 unique users from July-November 2018. On Google Maps our resources have had 90,000 views (August 2018-Feb 2019). A day of launch events at Hereford Cathedral on 7 July 2018 included living history, mini lectures, family activities and a reception (attended by c.250 people) for communities and stakeholders along the route. The project has had extensive media coverage in sources such as The Guardian, The Daily Telegraph Travel Section and BBC Online. The project attracted additional funding from the University of Southampton and Arts Council England, leading to a collaboration with an Artist in Residence and a touring art exhibition visiting sites on the St Thomas Way and beyond. In 2019, Hereford College of Art worked with hundreds of its students to explore the St Thomas Way, visiting locations and using the resources, to produce a major public art exhibition and creative performances at Hereford Cathedral. Economic benefits included a collaboration with a local micro-brewery in Swansea, producing St Thomas Way ale as a new commercial product stocked in outlets along the route. The project has also been showcased at a number of events as a model of heritage interpretation / research engagement practice. The project will play a key role in celebrations at Hereford Cathedral in late 2019 and throughout 2020 to commemorate the 700th anniversary of the canonisation of St Thomas of Hereford.
First Year Of Impact 2018
Sector Agriculture, Food and Drink,Creative Economy,Leisure Activities, including Sports, Recreation and Tourism,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections
Impact Types Cultural,Societal,Economic

 
Description British Pilgrimage Trust: added GPX data for St Thomas Way routes and promoted Way 
Organisation The British Pilgrimage Trust Cio
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution We gave permission for the British Pilgrimage Trust to include the St Thomas Way routes on their website, increasing the reach of the project and helping to promote it.
Collaborator Contribution The British Pilgrimage Trust created GPX data for all the St Thomas Way walking routes, adding value to the content, and have added the Way to their website.
Impact GPX files for each walk.
Start Year 2019
 
Description Hereford Cathedral: pilgrimage project 
Organisation Hereford Cathedral
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution This partnership builds on the 'City Witness' research and is the basis for the new project 'Pilgrimage into the Past: Walking the Medieval March of Wales', which has been awarded AHRC Follow-on Funding for Impact and Engagement. The 'City Witness' research will inform development of a new heritage tourism route from Swansea to Hereford Cathedral, developing tourism in the region and also helping Hereford Cathedral to maximise the opportunity of the 700th anniversary of the canonisation of St Thomas Cantilupe, in 2020, as a cultural / tourism event.
Collaborator Contribution Hereford Cathedral have already provided expertise and advice, and will provide access to archival resources, facilities / estates and production of some interpretation resources.
Impact Award of AHRC Follow-on Funding grant (2016)
Start Year 2016
 
Description Partnership with Swansea Council 
Organisation Swansea Council
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Our research underpinned the production of a new pavement marker series in Swansea city centre and its interpretation. Our research also contributes to the Council's interpretation of Swansea Castle and the historic city centre.
Collaborator Contribution Swansea Council supported the pavement marker scheme financially and in-kind through management of the project, installation of markers etc. They were also able to give access to archives and data.
Impact Pavement marker series 'City Witness' exhibition
Start Year 2013
 
Description 12-minute interview segment on 'Tonight', Swansea Bay TV, 18 January 2018 
Form Of Engagement Activity A broadcast e.g. TV/radio/film/podcast (other than news/press)
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact I was invited by Swansea Bay TV to film an interview about our project research and the story of Swansea's 'hanged man', William Cragh. The TV segment also included images and animation from our project website. Around 500 people watched the clip on YouTube, before it expired, as well as the TV audience. Some viewers shared responses on social media (Facebook and Twitter).
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Arts workshops with Artist in Residence 
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 Our Artist in Residence, Michelle Rumney, ran workshops as part of the touring art exhibition 'Re-Making Maps of the Mind'. These included public workshops at the various host sites along the St Thomas Way route, 5 weekly workshops at Lighthouse (Poole's Centre for the Arts), a Dementia Friendly workshop at Lighthouse, and two schools visits at Lighthouse.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018,2019
 
Description BBC Radio Three Arts and Ideas podcast 
Form Of Engagement Activity A broadcast e.g. TV/radio/film/podcast (other than news/press)
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Clarke was an invited participant in a Radio Three Arts and Ideas podcast on medieval pilgrimage today, released November 2018.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p06pyzxb
 
Description Invited paper, Metropolitan History seminar, Institute of Historical Research, University of London 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Invited seminar paper, with the title 'Ghostly geographies: In search of medieval Swansea today'
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://www.history.ac.uk/events/event/17915
 
Description Keynote lecture: AGM of the British Association for Local History 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact This online lecture was given at the AGM of the British Association for Local History. The talk 'What is Local History?', featured the St Thomas Way and City Witness projects.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
URL https://www.balh.org.uk/resources-agm-2020-videos
 
Description Social media engagement 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact @StThomasWay has 773 followers, including many businesses, community groups and heritage / tourism organisations.
The Twitter account has helped to connect with local tourism agencies: for example, Eat Sleep Live Herefordshire tweeted that 'this whole route is such a wonderful new attraction for walkers'
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018,2019
URL https://twitter.com/StThomasWay?lang=en-gb
 
Description St Thomas Way launch event, Hereford Cathedral 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact This day of launch events at Hereford Cathedral on 7 July 2018 included living history, mini lectures, family activities and a reception (attended by c.250 people) for communities and stakeholders along the route. The whole day reached an estimated 400-500 people. 99 feedback cards were collected, with highlights including: 'the cultural history of the Marches', 'William Cragh's story and St Thomas', 'the relevance of pilgrimage for today', 'the medieval period is alive - and palpable', 'the hidden gems [on the route] are worth finding!'
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description St Thomas Way media engagement 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact With the help of the AHRC Communications team, the project produced a media release. Media coverage has included articles in The Guardian, The Daily Telegraph (Travel Section), BBC Online, as well as a BBC Radio Three podcast, and local (Hereford and Worcester) BBC radio coverage.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Talk to the Historical Association, Hereford branch 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Talk to the Hereford branch of the Historical Association (online) on 'From Swansea's Gallows to Hereford's Shrine: the Hanged Man and his Pilgrimage'.
Event attended by members of the public from Swansea to Hereford.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021