Flood and Flow: Place-names and the Changing Hydrology of River Systems

Principal investigator: Susan Kilby
Level: Major research (Leverhulme funded)

'Flood and Flow: Place-Names and Changing Hydrology of River Systems'.
The work will draw initially from place-name evidence, and the project is the first to study river flooding and water/land management during the period c.700-1100AD, 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 also assess how historic place-names, archaeology, and palaeoenvironmental evidence might be effectively marshalled to map riverine landscapes during periods of rapid climate change. It will be questioned as to 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.
Extensive use of the Portable Antiquities Scheme databases and archives, specifically cartographic and Early Medieval artefactual information, will be essential to maximise the understanding of these landscapes on local and regional scales, and integrate critically with environmental and place-name evidence.

(Dr Richard Jones, University of Leicester)

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