UK Projects Win European Heritage / Europa Nostra Awards
We are thrilled to announce that there are two UK winners of the European Heritage Awards / Europa Nostra Awards for 2021. To find out more about the phenomenal winning projects, please read below. Don't forget to vote for your favourite projects in the Public Choice Awards!
Archaeology at Home
In March 2020, not-for-profit social business DigVentures launched Archaeology at Home as an instant response to the conditions imposed on the practice of public archaeology by the COVID-19 lockdown. Founded in 2012, DigVentures distinguishes itself with its collaborative, tech-enabled model of participation in archaeology and strives to deliver top-quality, research-driven archaeological work in collaboration with citizens, businesses, organisations and government, ultimately enabling places to thrive, prosper and sustain distinct local identities. In 2020, with field activities almost impossible, DigVentures completely remodeled itself and embarked on an extremely successful experiment in technology-enabled participation in archaeology.
Archaeology at Home consisted of three distinct streams: videos including virtual site tours and workshops; an online Virtual Fieldschool in the form of a six week step-by-step ‘How to do archaeology’ course, provided free of charge on the basis of an opt-in funding model; and the annual two-day DigNation festival, remodeled as a digital conference. In total, DigVentures welcomed a remarkable number of over 11,000 people from 90 countries.
The Jury praised the many innovative qualities of Archaeology at Home: “This proved to have been an agile response to the situation brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic and saw huge numbers of participants involved, offering connection during the lockdowns among the participants and between professionals and amateur archaeologists.”
The diverse audience extended far beyond the traditional demographics normally associated with public archaeology activities, and a remarkable percentage of participants was new to archaeology in general. Archaeology at Home also ran a junior course, attracting a further 1,844 primary school children and their guardians from 11 different countries, introducing children to the practical role of the archaeologist and sparking excitement for archaeology. The project further ensured that despite the solitary and isolated working conditions of archaeologists due to the pandemic, professional and aspiring archaeologists could come together, share their love for the practice, but also support each other in these times of social isolation.
Archaeology at Home did not just increase the accessibility of archaeology and act as a much needed social network during the pandemic, it also had a direct positive impact on cultural heritage. In particular, the participation of one student in the Virtual Fieldschool led to the discovery of a new henge site in the Derbyshire region of the United Kingdom. Moreover, DigVentures significantly upscaled their evaluation procedures for Archaeology at Home, which led to rich data allowing DigVentures to develop and refine this kind of community archaeology, which ultimately contributes to the social embeddedness of cultural heritage.
“By situating learning at its basis, Archaeology at Home has provided knowledge and guidance to people who want to approach archaeology in an amateur way. It can also provide an open database of materials and artefacts that otherwise would have been unknown, which helps to curtail the illegal sale of these objects,” the Jury noted.
Morus Londinium: London’s Heritage through Trees
At the core of the inspiring Morus Londinium project is an interactive online map on which, from 2016 to 2017, the public charted over 700 of the capital’s rare mulberry trees with photos and their associated heritage stories, since the long-lived trees often still stand in the grounds of built heritage sites that have long since disappeared. Thanks to Morus Londinium, funded by a UK Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) grant to the Conservation Foundation, veteran trees of London are now perceived as living cultural objects, offering the public the ability to “read” the cultural heritage of a city like London through an entirely new lens – its old trees.
Although mulberry trees were introduced to Britain by the Romans in the 1st century AD, England has a legacy of ancient mulberries from a failed attempt of King James I in the 17th century to start an English silk industry that could rival successful ventures in France, Italy and Spain; a historical connection that led to Morus Londinium’s expert contribution to the UNESCO Silk Roads Online Platform. In the 18th and 19th centuries, mulberry trees continued to be planted for their ornamental value, their delicious fruit and their associations with childhood and innocence.
Lesnes Abbey Mulberry © Peter Coles
Morus Londinium revived these long-forgotten heritage buildings and historical communities, nowadays commemorated only with street names of little meaning to local residents. In addition to walks, talks and events, community engagement was stimulated by the distribution of 100 mulberry saplings to schools and its association with Roots and Shoots, which provides vocational training to young people from London’s inner city.
The Jury praised the project’s achievements: “The crowd sourced project included digital engagement to not only map and preserve trees in an interesting and advanced way, but also to teach participants that trees each have stories and connections to their local surroundings. There was a good educational impact in a number of schools, where the interest of students was stimulated in silk and silk-making, in turn helping to preserve these traditional activities.”
Morus Londinium further raised awareness of the enormous contribution made by trees to urban living in terms of personal wellbeing, but also as generators of oxygen and organs for storing CO2, while reducing the heat island effect of the built environment. By linking conservation and awareness of the natural heritage with built and intangible heritage, the project has become a pioneer in bringing heritage issues, the environment, biodiversity and sustainable urban living into the same forum of public and political debate.
Extract of the Morus Londinium mulberry map © Peter Coles
“Morus Londinium represents an innovative way of learning, teaching and researching the history of a place, promoting well-being in an urban context and creating a sustainable way to preserve nature, thus fitting the goals of the 2030 EU Agenda for Sustainable Development. This methodology can easily be applied to other places, achieving these goals also elsewhere. The idea behind the project encourages us to see ourselves within nature and to change our priorities and perception of time, in contrast to the speed of contemporary life, especially in cities,” the Jury noted.
All Award Winners for 2021
Gare Maritime, Brussels, BELGIUM
Fredensborg Palace Garden, DENMARK
Vardzia Rock-Cut Complex, GEORGIA
Haus Am Horn, Weimar, GERMANY
Plaka Bridge, Epirus, GREECE
18 Ormond Quay Upper, Dublin, IRELAND
Wooden Church of Urși Village, Vâlcea County, ROMANIA
Besòs Water Tower, Barcelona, SPAIN
Mas de Burot, Els Ports Natural Park, SPAIN
FIBRANET - FIBRes in ANcient European Textiles, DENMARK/GREECE
Control Shift - European Industrial Heritage Reuse in Review, GREECE/NETHERLANDS
ART-RISK - Artificial Intelligence Applied to Preventive Conservation, SPAIN
Category Dedicated Service to Heritage by Organisations & Individuals
Gjirokastra Foundation, ALBANIA
Technical Committee on Cultural Heritage, CYPRUS
Rita Bargna, ITALY
GEFAC - Group of Ethnography and Folklore of the Academy of Coimbra, PORTUGAL
Category Education, Training and Awareness-raising
Following in the Steps of Bulgarian Folklore, BULGARIA
Heritage Hubs, FINLAND/ITALY/SERBIA/SPAIN
The Invention of a Guilty Party, Trento, ITALY
Holidays! In the East and West - The School Church, Groningen, THE NETHERLANDS
European Solidarity Centre - Permanent Exhibition, Gdańsk, POLAND
Morón Artisan Lime, Morón de la Frontera, SPAIN
Archaeology at Home, UNITED KINGDOM
Morus Londinium: London’s Heritage through Trees, UNITED KINGDOM