Breaking New Ground

Reconnecting People with The Brecks

© Chris Knight

Landscape Revolution

This project, delivered by the landscape history team at the University of East Anglia and keen volunteers, discovered the changing landscape of the Brecks in the period 1700 to 1930. The main topics tackled by the project included uncovering the growth of landed estates and their influence on the landscape, changing designs of parks and gardens, tree planting and enclosure. Volunteers were trained to carry out detailed surveys of cartographic and other documentary sources to establish past land use, vegetation and landownership to create an extensive GIS dataset. The number of volunteers was almost double the original target of 50, and 27 of these went on to conduct independent research projects of their own using their new-found skills.

An online landscape research toolkit has been developed and provides a starting point and guide for research into landscape change in the 18th and 19th centuries. It was shaped by discussions and feedback in early events which suggested that the focus should be on maps and easily accessible online resources. The introduction provides an overview of the region and the key themes which shaped the landscape during this period. Each subsequent section includes a summary, examples, information of where to find the material and suggestions of what it is most useful/appropriate for researching. The toolkit, along with lots of other resources, including maps, can be found on www.breckslandscape.co.uk.

The UEA team also supported a number of other BNG outputs including the Pine Lines and Brecks From Above projects, helping them with mapping and historical research which was invaluable.

"The project has increased knowledge and understanding of various aspects of the Brecks landscape, particularly the nature and progress of tree planting in the eighteenth and nineteenth, patterns of enclosure, influences on park and garden design and the changing road network. The project has also drawn together existing data to present patterns across the project area. In terms of what has worked well, the most productive elements of the project have been where a group was engaged in a particularly ongoing task (researching parks and gardens, fieldwork at Knettishall) or where individuals were following their own research interests."
Dr Jon Gregory – University of East Anglia

    The project has increased knowledge and understanding of various aspects of the Brecks landscape, particularly the nature and progress of tree planting in the eighteenth and nineteenth, patterns of enclosure, influences on park and garden design and the changing road network. The project has also drawn together existing data to present patterns across the project area. In terms of what has worked well, the most productive elements of the project have been where a group was engaged in a particularly ongoing task (researching parks and gardens, fieldwork at Knettishall) or where individuals were following their own research interests.

     

    Dr Jon Gregory – University of East Anglia

Legacy

  • Support provided for volunteers who continue to research the landscape. 
  • Material from the project is being used to inform landscape history teaching at UEA. 
  • Project website will be hosted for a minimum of 5 years beyond BNG. 
  • GIS datasets to be updated as research unveils more information. 
  • Commitment to publish reports and articles where appropriate.

Fascinating study which has extended and improved my knowledge of the Brecks

- Landscape Revolution volunteer

Gallery

Landscape Revolution
Landscape Revolution
Landscape Revolution
Landscape Revolution
Landscape Revolution
Landscape Revolution
Landscape Revolution
Landscape Revolution