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Duke’s praise for new book revealing hidden past of Chatsworth estate

This is an archived press release

Wednesday 9 September 2009

09 September 2009

Duke’s praise for new book revealing hidden past of Chatsworth estate

The Duke of Devonshire (centre) with authors John Barnatt and Nicola Bannister
The Duke of Devonshire said a new book tracing the rich archaeological heritage of Chatsworth’s vast estate will add immensely to visitors’ understanding.

He was speaking at the launch of “The Archaeology of a Great Estate: Chatsworth and Beyond,” by eminent archaeologists John Barnatt and Nicola Bannister.

The book takes us back thousands of years, tracing clues to human activities across 12,000 acres (5,000 hectares) of parkland, woods, moors, farmland and historic buildings.

Dr Barnatt, senior survey archaeologist for the Peak District National Park Authority, said: “Every corner of the Chatsworth landscape has something of historic interest, be it a field wall built 200 years ago, cultivation ridges made by medieval farmers or a lost routeway that has not been used for centuries. The challenge for us as archaeologists has been to recognise and interpret this sometimes subtle past landscape and how it has evolved, and pass this on to the estate and the public at large.”

They recorded 682 nationally or regionally important archaeological sites. Among them were previously undiscovered prehistoric burial mounds, as well as extensive remains of medieval ridge and furrow field systems, even coal mines, lead smelters and stone quarries in what is now tranquil countryside.

The book and its earlier companion volume, “Chatsworth: a Landscape History” are the culmination of 15 years meticulous surveying and analysis for English Heritage and the Trustees of the Chatsworth Settlement.

Their findings will enrich visitor leaflets and websites as well as education packs for schools, and provide background for a Heritage Management Plan to conserve the estate’s historic features for generations to come.

The Duke said the book had opened his eyes to areas even he did not know about, and would add immensely to visitors’ experience: “It’s jolly nice walking round here, but it’s jolly nicer when you know what you’re looking at.”

The insights gained would not only guide them in looking after the landscape, but help sustain the estate: “As we depend absolutely on visitor income, the more that visitors understand about Chatsworth, the more they will come back again and tell their friends about it.”

They were very lucky, he said, to have had the expertise of two brilliant scholars and a strong partnership between Chatsworth, English Heritage and the National Park Authority in the management and conservation of this great estate.

Tributes were also paid to Peak District National Park cultural heritage manager Ken Smith, who first instigated the surveys 15 years ago.

“The Archaeology of a Great Estate: Chatsworth and Beyond” is published by Windgather Press, an imprint of Oxbow Books, at £20.

This is an archived press release

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