Help fund my Medieval Landscape PhD

Who am I? My name is Spencer Gavin Smith and I live in North Wales.

What am I doing? I'm starting my 2nd year at Manchester Metropolitan University to finish my PhD on 'Parks, Gardens and Designed Landscapes of Medieval North Wales and North West Shropshire' and I blog once a week about my PhD research here: I recieve no funding other than through this site - if fact I was rejected by 123 charities and other organisations when I asked for funding for this research.

Why am I doing this? The most common perception of the medieval period is that it is all about war and fighting and death, but I want to help people understand that it was more complex than this. English and Welsh Medieval Castles in Wales, such as the famous Caernarfon, Conwy, Dolbadarn and Sycharth castles, had designed gardens purely for their owners enjoyment, a feature that has often been ignored in the past.

During the castles decline, these gardens disappeared, leaving us with questions such as where they were, how big they were, and what sort of plants were grown in them. The castle owners also had carefully designed parks where they would keep animals, such as deer, to hunt, an activity linked with status and ceremony. Again, these designed landscapes in Wales have previously been neglected by castle scholars.

I believe that these designed landscapes both within and outside the castle complex are an important feature of the castle itself and of the society in which it belongs. I want to answer questions such as how these designed landscapes were used by the castle owners to show off to their friends and to their enemies, how they were used to order society, and how these landscapes changed the world that the ordinary person lived in.

I'm going to use a combination of archaeology (standing buildings, earthworks and results from previous excavations); history (estate accounts and court records); literature (poems and narrative tales) and art (including manuscript illustrations and stone sculptures) to present as complete a picture as possible of this world.

How can you help? Funders contributed £1000 towards my 1st year fee total, and I'm hoping that I can attract new funders for my 2nd year to raise another £1000. to put towards pay the remainder of my tuition fees and for fieldwork to go out and find and measure these places to produce maps and plans of them for the PhD.

These maps and plans will be given to the Government agencies responsible for protecting the castles and their landscapes in England and Wales. They can use this information to plan how best they can be preserved for the future and decide how important these gardens and parks are on a national and international scale.

I will also give copies of the PhD to the relevant regional archaeological trusts. They will add the information to the databases they keep about the archaeology in their area, which people can then access free of charge to learn more about where they live. I will use the information collected to plan where archaeological excavations should be carried out in order to find out more about particular sites.

What's in it for you?
· I'll include your name in my PhD acknowledgements.
· Answer any questions you have about what I'm writing about.
· Give you a real or virtual tour of any of the sites I'm writing about.
· I'll give a real or virtual talk about my research to a group of people you think would be interested.
· If I get a book deal when I've finished the PhD, I'll put your name in the acknowledgements.
· If I get a book deal when I've finished the PhD, the person who provides the greatest amount of funding will receive a free signed copy of the finished book.

Want to find out more?
· I'm blogging about my PhD research here:
· If you click on the 'PhD Aims and Objectives' Tab you can read in more detail what I plan to do.
· If you click on the 'Publications' Tab you can read what I've already had published and ask me for copies.
· If you click on the 'Broadcasts' Tab you can read what TV and Radio Programmes I've already contributed to.


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Spencer Gavin Smith 
Nannerch, Wales, United Kingdom
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