Further Funding Received for Quantocks Orchard Project


Peter Coates has received £7,310 (75% from the Quantock Hills Sustainable Development Fund and 25% from the University of Bristol’s Lady Emily Smyth Bequest for horticultural research, administered by the School of Biological Sciences) to pursue a 7-week (or equivalent) project entitled ‘Fallen Fruits: Mapping Orchard Decline in the Quantock Hills at Parish Level with Tithe Record and Map Data’. This project is the latest stage in a well-established collaboration between Peter and the team that manages the Quantock Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) in western Somerset.

This represents Phase 2 of a larger project on the importance of orchards to the physical, cultural and economic landscapes of the Quantock Hills area. Phase 1 was pursued in the spring of 2012 with funding from the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) by Marianna Dudley, a researcher based in the Department, as part of ‘The Places That Speak to Us and the Publics We Talk With’ project. Using MapInfo GIS software, Marianna deployed data extracted from written records, OS maps and aerial photos that were accessed at Somerset Heritage Centre (Taunton) to create a new set of multi-layered maps. These maps plot, in visually striking fashion, former, current and remnant orchard sites both within the Quantock Hills AONB area and its buffer zone.

Funding for this next stage will cover the hourly fees and travel costs of another researcher attached to the Department. This to-be-appointed researcher will deploy data from early-to-mid 19th century tithe records and maps (digitized by staff at the Somerset Heritage Centre during the latter stages of Phase 1). The objective is to generate parish-level information for each parish with land within the AONB area/buffer zone. The results of this project will inform the AONB service’s land use decisions and aims to provide the AONB service and local parish councils with the evidence base required to encourage the re-planting of fruit trees and community orchards. Funding bids for replanting trees that are rooted in solid empirical evidence of the significance of orchards to the local economy, ecology and community as well as historical landscape will be more robust. This project is a further expression of the applied value of the historical research that the Project Team is conducting as part of ‘The Places That Speak to Us’.

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