Gardom's Edge is part of the gritstone scarp which forms the eastern side of the Derwent Valley in the Derbyshire Peak District. Behind the edge is a broad shelf which contains many archaeological features. These include a large stone-built enclosure, probably Neolithic in date, and examples of `cup and ring' art. Later prehistoric cairnfield systems can also be seen across much of the better, if stony, land encompassed by the project, associated with a rich variety of features: house sites, clearance cairns, linear clearance features and lynchets, some defining small fields. Overtly ceremonial monuments include standing stones, burial cairns and a ringcairn. The main aim of the project is to produce a long-term biography of the area, ultimately from prehistory to the present. We are trying to trace the changing ways in which this land was inhabited, and the manner in which communities at different times were articulated within broader social geographies. Conceived as an exercise in landscape archaeology, the project has involved excavation, remote sensing, metrical survey and the analysis of environmental and soils data. The Gardom's Edge project is a joint undertaking by the Department of Archaeology and Prehistory at the University of Sheffield (Mark Edmonds) and the Archaeology Service of the Peak National Park (John Barnatt and Bill Bevan). It has been running since 1995 and will continue in the field until the end of 1999.

Our main research concerns at Gardom's have gone hand in hand with a desire to promote access and understanding beyond conventional disciplinary boundaries. As such, our work is an exercise in public archaeology, however one chooses to define the term. From the beginning, we have tried to acknowledge a wide variety of different `communities of interpretation' in the design of the project, treating it as an event which can be approached in a number of ways. Public access takes a variety of forms: from informal and more formal guided tours through to co-ordinated projects with local schools and parallel work with artists in residence and theatre groups. We have also been trying to develop various forms of access for different special needs groups. As a step away from a more conventional `producer/consumer' relationship, we have also encouraged people to participate `in the field' in various ways, both at Gardom's itself and on related projects elsewhere in the region. Our primary concern in this work has been to promote the recognition that much of what people encounter when they visit is as much a product of history as a part of nature. On that foundation can be built a variety of different engagements.

Our concern with promoting different forms of access was the principal motive behind the development of the Gardom's Edge website. With increasing Internet usage, the web clearly offers unique opportunities for interaction and communication. Work is still at an early stage. However, it is probably worth making a few comments on the design and development of the website.


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Last updated: Thu May 27 1999