Landscape research at Exeter is characterised by its interdisciplinarity, methodological innovation, commitment to fieldwork, and relevance to modern day society. Our current research covers a range of themes:
- the origins and development of historic landscapes, uncovering where our landscapes of today came from
- exploring ancient landscapes through remote sensing techniques
- understanding the changing patterns in the exploitation of resources such as salt, obsidian clays and metals
- human/environment relations, looking in particular at the early domestication of plants and animals
- how social relationships and cultural values shape past perceptions and current understanding of landscape
Our work in the broad field of landscape archaeology also has strong synergies with our research into coastal and wetland landscapes.
Collaboration and research
Many of our research projects involve active collaboration with scholars from other disciplines including geography, history, palaeoenvironmental studies, and classics and ancient history. Examples of methodological innovation include developing new approaches to characterising historic landscapes, integrating field surveys with palaeoenvironmental analysis, and techniques of remote sensing. Current projects include work in:
- Britain, focusing on such areas as regional variation in landscape character and Roman and medieval industrial landscapes
- Europe: projects investigate a wide range of topics, including prehistoric exploitation of natural resources and Romanisation in eastern Europe, the development of medieval castles and the study of townscapes and the management of their heritage, across the whole of western Europe
- central and south-eastern Asia, examining early horse domestication in Kazakhstan and metallurgical processes in India and Sri Lanka
- the Americas: research in this region includes study of the development of agricultural landscapes in South America, and the exploitation of wild animal resources on the plains for North America
In a world facing huge environmental challenges, understanding the past is vital to securing our future, and the landscape research at Exeter is contributing to this in a number of ways, for example a collaborative project with the RSPB on managing wetland environments and working with communities in the Amazon to develop more sustainable ways of farming.