Museum of London Archaeology Service Wins Grant To Dig Deeper Into Victorian Past

MOLA team
16.02.2007

Queen Mary, University of London and Museum of London Archaeology Service are delighted to announce that they have been awarded a grant by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) to pilot a study of the archaeologies of Victorian households.

Nigel Jeffries and Rupert Featherby, finds specialists at Museum of London Archaeology Service, in partnership with Dr Alastair Owens, Lecturer in Geography at Queen Mary, University of London, successfully applied to AHRC through its speculative award scheme for a project entitled ‘Living in Victorian London: Material Histories of Everyday Life in the Nineteenth-Century Metropolis’.

This innovative pilot study will evaluate and develop new ways of researching the details of Victorian Londoners’ lives through archaeological finds. The methods will build on those formulated by historians and historical archaeologists working on nineteenth-century urban locations in Australia and United States.

This work will combine archaeological and documentary evidence from 3 socially and geographically contrasting localities in nineteenth-century London. It is expected to reveal important insights into the relationships between domestic space, economic activity and the wider urban world – themes of great relevance in understanding modern and future urbanism.

The archaeological sites in question are the Bell Green Brewery site in Sydenham, South London, Limehouse Causeway in East London and New Palace Yard, Westminster. Running as a nine-month project from the summer of this year, much of the documentary work needed to illuminate and contextualise the artefacts will be undertaken via a research assistant who will be based at Queen Mary’s ‘City Centre’, a newly formed institute for collaborative research on cities. Artefact research will be carried out by Museum of London Archaeology Service finds specialists.

The results will reach a broad range of people, from school children (a short CD of each site will address the Victorian element of the National Curriculum and will be sent to local schools) to academic historians and genealogists.

The project will test the value of archaeology as a crucial tool in integrated historical analysis, complementing the documentary sources traditionally used by urban historians. In the longer-term, the pilot study will be used as a basis for developing a major, collaborative research programme on the material history of nineteenth and twentieth-century London, building on ‘The Biographies of London Life’ research manifesto written by Nigel Jeffries and Dan Hicks (of Bristol University).

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