Based at Bangor University, ISWE is a long-term venture aimed at transforming understanding of Welsh history and culture, its landscapes, built environments and heritage collections.
This not only involves programmes of high quality scholarship, but also the building of sustained interactions between academic expertise and the nation’s archives and heritage organisations, owners and custodians of Wales’ country houses and historic landscapes, and local communities – with a view to forming and sharing new insights about Wales’ past, present and future.
All of our projects draw on the collections – of archives, manuscripts, buildings, landscapes, monuments and artwork – which were generated, collected or preserved by the estates of Wales and their associated communities and activities over many centuries.
Until now, this outstanding evidence base, held in public and private repositories across Wales, has not received concerted and coordinated academic attention. ISWE’s ambition for the next generation is to unlock its research and heritage potential through energetic collaborative projects and studies, particularly through our thriving cohort of doctoral and early-career researchers.
From the medieval period until the early-twentieth century, landed estates formed a critical part in the life and structure of Wales, occupying much of its land and influencing all aspects of society. Estate collections therefore span an exceptional range of themes and issues, from agriculture, architecture, music, politics and the economy, through to literature, industry, law and language. In analysing the profound impacts and influences exerted by estates, across all parts of Wales, ISWE is positioned to create a new body of scholarship which will refine and challenge established interpretations and perceptions of Wales’ past.
There are major opportunities for this knowledge to inform and influence Wales’ present and future – especially in the spheres of heritage interpretation, sustainable tourism, land use and the rural economy; and still more fundamentally in relation to how Welsh identities and Wales’ place in the British Isles and wider world have been formed and understood.
ISWE recognises that the people of Wales have a vested interest in understanding the history of the places and communities where they live. Contributing towards the interpretation, communication and enrichment of Welsh history; a complex history which should play an integral part in Welsh society, today and into the future, is an important part of ISWE’s identity. We are committed to sharing our pathways of discovery and exploration by opening up opportunities for community engagement as part of our research, organising expansive programmes of public events across Wales, and maintaining an active presence on social media.
The combination of locally informed studies and a national all-Wales remit is unique to ISWE. Within Bangor University we benefit substantially from our partnership with the University Archives and Special Collections.Furthermore, working closely with other institutions and equivalent research centres across Wales, the British Isles and as part of the European Network for Country House and Estate Research situates our work and findings within a vibrant intellectual context and debate, which is internationally significant and globally engaged.