Dr Richard Jones
Associate Professor in Landscape History
Room 15, Marc Fitch House, Salisbury Road
I studied History and Archaeology at Exeter before moving on to Oxford where I completed my DPhil in 1994.
I worked for five years for the Sussex Archaeological Society before taking up a research fellowship at Birmingham in 2000 working on the Whittlewood Project.
In 2001 this project moved to Leicester, where I joined the Centre for English Local History. Briefly moving to Cardiff in 2005 as a Lecturer in Archaeology, I returned to ELH as Lecturer in Landscape History the following year and have been here ever since.
I have one partner whose meteoric academic rise puts my own paltry achievements into their true context, one cat with whom I can at least still converse, two children who appear to be taking after their mother, eight chickens for eggs, and cricket for solace.
My research focuses on the complex and changing relationships which existed between people and the land between c.400 and c.1500 AD.
It centres on examining how the landscape was exploited both as an economic resource, and as a medium through which personal and community identities (particularly of the non-elite) were negotiated, forged and reinforced. Other research themes include:
- the early medieval origins of English villages and the take-up and spread of open-field farming
- medieval manure
- the impact of Scandinavian settlement on the English countryside
- rural depopulation as a stimulus for landscape change
I also organised a series of AHRC- funded workshops entitled 'Sense of Place in Anglo- Saxon England'.
Current research strands include:
- agriculture as a social practice
- perceptions of landscape and communal cohesion explored through place- and field-naming strategies
- the interplay between medieval farmers and their soils, crops, and animals
- issues of individuality and commonality as reflected in settlement morphology and household organisation
Flood and Flow: Place-Names and the Changing Hydrology of River-Systems
Flood and Flow is two-year interdisciplinary research project, funded by The Leverhulme Trust. The project is based at the University of Leicester, and draws on expertise from the Institute of Name Studies at the University of Nottingham, the Centre for Advanced Welsh and Celtic Studies at the University of Wales, and the School of Geography at the University of Southampton.
Flooding, linked to climate change, is recognised in the Committee for Climate Change Risk Assessment Report 2017 as the single largest environmental threat to the UK. In England alone, 5.2 million homes are now at risk from flooding, a figure expected to rise significantly in the next few decades. In 2014 the annual cost of flood damage was placed at £1.1 billion and predicted to rise to £27 billion by 2080.
Primarily drawing on place-name evidence, ours is the first project to study river flooding and water/land management during the period c.700-1100 AD, the last major episode on record of rapid warming and weather extremes. This critical period of climate change is targeted because it offers the closest parallels for our own times, since this was when most now-occupied centres of population were first established, and when these places gained their names.
This project will assess how historic place-names, archaeology, and palaeoenvironmental evidence might be effectively marshalled to map riverine landscapes during periods of rapid climate change. We will ask whether these names, laden with environmental information, in known locations still occupied today, remain valuable guides to understanding the nature of modern river flows, floodplain and wetland environments, and human responses to living with and managing water across whole river catchment basins.
- The medieval countryside, c.400-1500
- settlement and landscape change
- perceptions of landscape and the natural world
- individual, group and regional identity
- interdisciplinary approaches to the medieval landscape, particularly integration of history and archaeology
All history is anchored in time and place. My teaching emphasises the latter, stressing the role that the landscape has played both as historical stage and actor. While most interested in English landscape and societal change during the long medieval period (c.400 to c.1500), and unapologetically rural in its focus, the lessons to be drawn from foregrounding the landscape have far wider applications for the study of history irrespective of period or context.
Here is an example of a module that I teach: Medieval Natural World.