A book inspired by a Bournemouth University (BU) cross disciplinary research project has been nominated for Book of the Year at the 2021 Current Archaeology Awards.
Historic Landscapes and Mental Well-being was a collaboration between BU’s Department of Archaeology & Anthropology and Department of Nursing Science, and is based on the Human Henge project, which explores the impact of prehistoric landscapes on the well-being of those with mental health issues.
The book was co-authored by Professor Timothy Darvill, Professor of Archaeology; Dr Vanessa Heaslip, Associate Professor Nursing; Yvette Staelens, Visiting Research Fellow and Laura Drysdale of the Restoration Trust. Speaking of the nomination, Professor Tim Darvill said: “It’s a great honour for our book to be nominated for an award, and the nomination is a recognition of the value of cross-disciplinary research.
“What unites our work is an interest in the human condition, a recognition that place is an important dimension of people’s identity, and that connecting with places and reconnecting with themselves is a powerful tool in relation to well-being generally and mental health well-being in particular.”
The Human Henge project builds on the idea that Stonehenge was once a place of healing by exploring the relationships between people and place in the past and the present. The aim is to open new ways of looking at the landscape, and at ourselves. Professor Darvill continued: “Using archaeological sites and historic landscapes is really important not just as an aspect of managing and making the most of our rich cultural heritage but also as a way of expanding the way these places can contribute to the social needs of today.”
Human Henge was run by the Restoration Trust in partnership with Bournemouth University, the Richmond Fellowship, English Heritage, and The National Trust, with support from the Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust. Professor Darvill hopes that after the book’s publication, archaeological sites and historic landscapes will be used more to promote mental health well-being. He said: “There is a great potential here as every country in the world has a cultural heritage that can be used for such activities. Importantly, the work we have been doing is non-destructive, so has no physical impact on the heritage sites themselves.”
Dr Vanessa Heaslip added: “The opportunities for heritage to promote health and well-being is currently untapped and under researched, yet the possibilities for using these resources in social prescribing could make a massive impact.”
The award nomination is based on books reviewed by Current Archaeology magazine over the last 12 months, and the winner will be decided by public vote. Voting is open now until Monday 8 February and the result will be announced during the virtual Current Archaeology Live! conference on 26-27 February.
You can place your vote for the book here.