The Battle of Tewkesbury: 360° interpretative resource heritage trail

2021 marks the 550th anniversary of the Battle of Tewkesbury. As this date approaches, we have been thinking about the cultural spaces made for commemorating episodes of past conflicts in a local history context. Do these events, separated from us by so many centuries, matter to us anymore? Are they remembered by a local community who have inherited the legacy? How do we conceptualise and re-package the stories of these events, constrained as we are by limited evidence, and present it in a new way and for contemporary purposes? With these issues in mind, Dr David Howell and Dr Erin Peters will be busy next semester working on a new and exciting local research project.

The project will develop a 360° digital heritage resource, based on the Battle of Tewkesbury. The final product will take the form of an app, where users will be able to access 4-6 immersive video experiences, placing them in the landscape of Tewkesbury during 1471. Users will be able to visualise preparations for warfare, the battle, and the aftermath. This resource would be developed through close interaction with local stakeholders and interest groups, to ensure the local relevance of the final content. The development of this initial product would act as a gateway towards the creation of a much more ambitious resource: the History Team propose to expand the digital heritage provision in Tewkesbury to other periods of history, using the well-known battle to help promote and encourage access to otherwise underdeveloped historical narratives in the town. The ultimate goal will be to enhance local user engagement with historical narratives, while allowing the History Team to explore the legacy of the Battle of Tewkesbury in relation to community identity, collective memory, and in contrast to other, as yet, underdeveloped historical themes in the town.

Action from a re-enactment of the Battle of Tewkesbury. See ‘Bid to protect whole of ancient Tewkesbury battlefield site from development’ Gloucestershire Live, 20 May 2017

Next semester, Dr David Howell and I will be collecting and analysing a variety of sources and material in order to incorporate it into an academic publication, into the app, and use it to construct the immersive video experience of the Battle. Other relevant areas to be thoroughly researched during this time will include fifteenth-century battle field preparations, battle tactics and military strategies, and the typical impact and aftermath of these important events on local areas, peoples, etc., in order to accurately reflect within the project both the contemporary impact of the Battle of Tewskesbury on the town, as well as its enduring legacy since 1471. Our research will also consider the impact of digital technologies in the telling of medieval history and heritage, as well as how the use of virtual reality can enhance community interaction and interest in local history and local memory/heritage projects.

Students at the excavations in 2018 working as part of the Cotswold Centre for History & Heritage projects.

The Battle of Tewkesbury: 360° interpretative resource heritage trail will also directly link into level 5 provision, providing an opportunity for students to engage with an aspect of local history, while using the historical narrative as a means of encouraging students to consider approaches to and methods for interpretation of historical events. As part of HM5002 last year, a group of students led a successful archaeological research trip to the Tewkesbury site. With this in mind, it is anticipated that interested students will have opportunities to contribute to the project next semester. The project is being funded by the Being Human research priority area at the University of Gloucestershire.


Dr Erin Peters

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