Researcher presenting information on small whiteboard

Portsmouth Heritage Hub: preserving history - informing the future. By Dr Sam Robson

  • 01 October 2019
  • 5 min read

The University of Portsmouth has recently begun a new endeavour in the development of a research hub with a focus on culture, heritage and civic engagement. The Portsmouth Heritage Hub is a research network aiming to connect multi-disciplinary researchers from the University with stakeholders in local sites of cultural and historical interest.

Drawing on the region’s past

The Solent, and the surrounding Wessex area has a rich array of history. Portsmouth’s Historic Dockyard, home to world famous ships such as the Mary Rose and HMS Victory, attracts thousands of visitors from around the world, and provides a window into the life of sailors throughout the ages and how this has shaped the City today. The Isle of Wight has proved to be one of the richest sources of dinosaur fossils in all of Europe,  and has earned it the title of the UK’s Dinosaur Capital. Fishbourne Roman Palace in Chichester is the largest Roman residential building to have been discovered in Britain, and offers a unique glimpse into the life of Britons following the Roman conquest. And of course, Portsmouth recently hosted Royalty and international leaders to celebrate its part in the D-Day landings in Normandy, one of the most important operations in World War II. 

Our aim is to enrich the community through preservation, conservation, interpretation and education about our rich and unique regional history – from the dinosaurs of the Cretaceous Period, through the maritime history of our island port city, to our place in history as the launch point for much of the D-Day Landing fleet in 1944. In this way, we can help to protect our heritage, understand how it has shaped our life today, and how it might inform our future. 

The skills and expertise of researchers throughout the University are multifaceted and span a wide range of themes and fields. These include (but are not limited to) expertise with ancient DNA analysis to understand our past, identifying novel ways to preserve monuments and buildings, interpretation of ancient texts and oral histories, and using modern technology such as virtual reality to provide interactive ways to engage the public with their past. 

Working together to inform future expertise and research

We have partnered with stakeholders in local sites of heritage and culture, including amongst others Dinosaur Isle, The Mary Rose Trust, Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, Fishbourne Roman Palace, Southwick House, and Portsmouth Cathedral. Each stakeholder provides access to their collections and the expertise of their respective members in order to develop further projects for funding opportunities. In addition, we are working together with the City Council to further the civic impact of the hub within the City and beyond. Our hope is that, by highlighting the civic engagement of the University through the Hub, we can raise aspirations throughout our local area.

The Hub is still developing, and we are continually looking for people to get involved to further build the network. If you would like to work with the Hub, either as a researcher or a stakeholder, then please contact portsmouth-heritage-hub-group@port.ac.uk.

 
Heritage Hub Launch

Group discussion

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