This project brings together scholars working in the disciplines of literary studies, geography, archaeology and history to explore how material and imagined urban landscapes construct and convey a sense of place-identity. The focus of the project is the city of Chester and the identities that its inhabitants formed between c.1200 and 1500. A key aspect of the project is to integrate geographical and literary mappings of the medieval city using cartographic and textual sources and using these to understand more how urban landscapes in the Middle Ages were interpreted and navigated by local inhabitants. One particularly innovative dimension of this is the project's use of information technologies both as a means of exploring these 'mappings' of medieval Chester, for example through the use and development of a Geographical Information System (GIS) to create a map of Chester as it was c.1500, and as a means of widening access and public interest in Chester's medieval past and in medieval urban studies generally by linking literary and cartographic sources in digital media. The project will thus not only extend our understanding of how placed-identities were forged in the medieval city through local association and relationships with imagined and material urban landscapes, but also foster transferable methodologies and working models for integrating visual and textual digital data sources in humanities computing projects.

There are three key research questions guiding the project's research objectives:

  1. How do different kinds of literary and geographical 'mappings' of medieval Chester (cartographic, textual) relate to each other?
  2. How was Chester's urban landscape interpreted by those writing of the city and its environs during the Middle Ages?
  3. How was the place of Chester as a multicultural city on the border of England and Wales manifested in the formation of local identities through perceptions of its landscape, environment, and history?

The project will produce three main outputs, including:

  1. A website which will bring together an interactive digital map of Chester c.1500 interlinked with medieval textual 'mappings' of the city c.1200-1500.
  2. Three scholarly papers produced by the project Principal and Co-Investigators, drawing on analysis of the primary materials. These papers will explore place, identity, liminality and hybridity in medieval Chester and will be included in a collection of essays related to the project.
  3. Two dissemination events: an academic colloquium at the University of Wales, Swansea, and a public workshop at the Grosvenor Museum, Chester.