Session: #55

Theme & Session Format

Archaeological heritage and museum management: future chances, future risks
Session format:
Regular session

Title & Content

Forgotten Castle Landscapes: Connecting Research and Heritage, Monuments and Landscapes
The castles of Europe are dramatic and fundamental interfaces for public understandings of the past. They can be situated in striking landscapes, which may be designated as national parks or UNESCO geoparks. Whilst both castles and landscapes attract visitors, they often remain disconnected from each other in terms of scholarly and public understanding. Where these landscapes functioned at a crucial point in the process of state formation as frontiers – regions created by conquest which absorbed resident populations and supplemented them with migrants – castles were constructed to secure and manage them. The European heritage sector has promoted these monuments as tourist attractions in varying ways. Many function as public museums, others have passed into private ownership with obligations of retaining some public access. Other still have become hotels or residences, with varying levels of protection for the monument and buried archaeology. In Iberia, for example, the creation of Paradors remains one of the most effective government strategies for conserving these monuments and connecting heritage with local economic growth. However, a crucially important aspect of these sites remains largely neglected – their cultural landscapes. In the last two decades, landscape archaeology has reshaped our understanding of medieval communities, stressing the connection between places and their associated territories. This has barely been adopted by the European heritage sector. Where castles were utilised as tools of conquest and colonisation, the cultural landscape provides a fundamental lens on the impact of imposing a new regime and social norms on the broader population. The aim of this session is to explore how these key regional monuments can be reconnected with their cultural landscapes, from both research and heritage perspectives. Our hope is to move beyond the ‘historical routes’ that connect major monuments and define European regional tourism to synchronise cutting-edge scholarship with public understanding.
Castles, Cultural landscape, Heritage, Medieval archaeology
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Main organiser:
Aleks Pluskowski (United Kingdom) 1
Guillermo García-Contreras Ruiz (Spain) 2
Michelle Alexander (United Kingdom) 3
Rowena Banerjea (United Kingdom) 1
Marcos García-García (Spain) 2
1. Department of Archaeology, University of Reading
2. Departamento de Historia Medieval y Ciencias y Técnicas Historiográficas, Universidad de Granada
3. Department of Archaeology, University of York