Deep topography practice – landscape walks as PhD fieldwork
Composite map of the landscape walk routes in the Llanthony Priory case study (Source: map drawn in ArcGIS using ArcGIS World Imagery basemap).
A note here on the experiential landscape walks that I am undertaking across the three case study areas on which my PhD research is focussed, a core element in an interdisciplinary approach: blending the solid of landscape history with the drift of landscape perception.
One key purpose is to bridge the traditional fieldwork focus on macro-level reconnaissance across relatively large areas on the one hand and smaller-scale targeting of specific sites and features through survey, field walking, test pitting and so on on the other. The walks aim to fulfil a complementary and linking middle ground that also provides additional evidence and value. More fundamentally, actually walking and moving through the landscape on foot, experiencing and investigating on the ground, helps to provide a more nuanced, fleshed-out and three-dimensional feeling to supplement important but formulaic desk-based study focused on academic reading and ‘birds eye’ views from aerial photographs, satellite imagery and maps and so forth. This is deep topography in practice: a deepening understanding of landscape history allied to a deeper perceptual viewpoint. Getting to know a landscape, its biography through walking.