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Supporting the cultural regeneration of Swansea


Following on from successful AHRC-funded projects that had a transformative effect on the city of Chester, Professor Catherine Clarke at the University of Southampton has turned her attentions to Swansea’s rich history using medieval manuscripts and testimonies to bring historic locations of the city to life and subsequently ensuring that the Castle, the last surviving medieval building, is the centrepiece of the city’s heritage tourist attractions.

The ‘City Witness: Place and Perspective in Medieval Swansea’ (2013-2014) is a multi-partner multidisciplinary project also involving Swansea Council and the Glamorgan-Gwent Archaeological Trust. Medieval Swansea was a thriving port, and a multi-cultural urban community but much of this history has been obscured by wartime bombing, and later urban developments, with few traces of the medieval city remaining. The city received convergence funding to develop the city centre and Clarke’s input to the process was invaluable in realising the potential of rediscovering medieval sites.

Computer Generated reconstruction of the medieval Wind Street in Swansea
Medieval Wind Street. Credit: City Witness Project

From the outset of the City Witness project she was involved in discussions about the cultural and economic value of the medieval context. Her research informed local government policy and, along with her Co-Investigators, Dr Keith Lilley and Paul Vetch, her project has helped to bring this regeneration to fruition. The project helped further the Council’s goal of developing a distinct ‘Castle Quarter’ in the city centre and has reimagined the city’s medieval locations through the placing of a set of bronze pavement markers. The pavement markers, which were developed with match funding from Swansea Council, link to an interactive online digital map showing medieval locations in the modern city.

Other project outputs include a range of multimedia resources, including a game and an interactive map of medieval/modern Swansea aimed at diverse user constituencies, and a major exhibition at Swansea Museum. As a consequence of this, the City Witness project received the silver medal for Public Engagement in International Digital Humanities Awards 2014. Professor Catherine Clarke is currently in discussions with Hereford Cathedral regarding developing a new pilgrimage route from Swansea to Hereford which will bring further social, cultural and economic benefits and serve to further embed Swansea in tourism routes.

This case study was featured within the AHRC 2014/15 impact report.

For more information on the project visit the City Witness Website

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