I’m Alice Harvey-Fishenden and I’m investigating historic drought in Staffordshire. I am a PhD student in Geography at the University of Liverpool, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, as part of a project between the University of Liverpool and the Staffordshire Record Office, along with Helen Houghton who is studying historic flooding in Staffordshire.
Previous studies of historic drought have focussed on establishing a chronology and exploring patterns in drought occurrence. Through this project I am hoping to put the humans into the picture. I am focussing on how our understanding and response to drought has changed over time, with a focus on the eighteenth century and the recent past, but also exploring the intervening period, and earlier evidence where possible.
I am running a volunteer project at the Staffordshire Record Office looking at how weather and water management was recorded in eighteenth century diaries and letters. If you are interested in volunteering, take a look at my call for volunteers here, and send me a message!
In the project as a whole I will be looking at:
- what we can learn from field-names about attitudes towards and understanding of water in the landscape
- memories of drought, heatwaves and water-shortages in Staffordshire
- weather recording in diaries and letters
- the beginnings of the industrial revolution and its impact on the water supply (particularly looking at canals and water rights)
Before starting this project, I worked as a commercial field archaeologist in Milton Keynes, recording archaeology prior to large-scale development, whilst studying for an MSc in Applied Landscape Archaeology. I am interested in human interaction with the landscape in all time periods, from the early prehistoric to the industrial, but particularly enjoy investigating the medieval landscape. Prior to this I obtained a BA in Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic, with a focus on the medieval history and languages of England and Wales.
I grew up in rural Herefordshire, and am currently based in Stafford.
Our project twitter is @floodanddrought . We’re planning on using it to keep you up to date with what we are up to, what we’ve found, and let you know when we add anything to the blog.