Hidden on the estate of Herstmonceux Castle, in the south of England, are important clues about the enduring and troubled relationship between man and nature. Our project aims to understand changes to human settlement on the Herstmonceux estate, transformed during a time of intense climate change, to determine the impact of nature on settlement patterns and land use. In short, we will gauge how expanding ice, rising sea levels, increased storms in the North Atlantic, and rampant floods changed the way people in late medieval southern England lived. The insights we gain have implications for how people today frame problems of climate change. They highlight, first of all, that nature has always had a role in shaping human history, and, second, that challenges of climate are old, not new. Environment has always defined how humans organize our civlizations, how culture manifests, and the extent to which we succeed – or fail – as a species.
Read more about our project and goals. They outline how our research will benefit not only scholars, but Canadian students and society at large.
Our project on historical climate change at a late medieval castle is the result of an innovative and rapidly expanding research partnership between the Bader International Study Centre, located at Herstmonceux Castle, Queen’s University (Kingston, Ontario, Canada), the University of Waterloo (Waterloo, Ontario, Canada), and St. Jerome’s University (Waterloo). In addition, we have benefitted from the generous support of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC), in the form of a Partnership Development Grant.
The purpose of our formal partnership is to share resources, personnel, skills, and opportunities for the mutual benefit of our partners and, more importantly, for the betterment of Canadian society. Each of the partner institutions has made a significant investment to help us achieve success.
Dr. Steven Bednarski
St. Jerome’s University in the University of Waterloo
290 Westmount Road North
CANADA N2L 3G3