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Urban Scrawl: Reconstructing Urban Landscapes Using Documentary Sources

  • Eleanor RamseyEmail author
Chapter
Part of the Springer Series on Cultural Computing book series (SSCC)

Abstract

Whilst many heritage projects utilise new technologies for the creation and analysis of novel digital datasets, these projects require the object or landscape under study to currently exist. For urban landscapes that are no longer extant, however, there is a large amount of data in a non-digital format that can potentially be mined to reconstruct in detail those areas which are now physically beyond the reach of archaeologists. This chapter aims to show that by including documentary sources such as census returns and trade directories in a suitable digital format, technologies such as GIS can be used to facilitate access to this data, and also provide a way of analysing, understanding and visualising the information held within them in many novel ways. The period studied here, nineteenth century Britain, was a time of intense change, especially in terms of the booming population and industrial output and, as a consequence of the continued development of urban areas, the archaeology and built environment of this period is under considerable threat. Trade directories, census returns and GIS have all been used in historic and archaeological research period before, however, previous research tends to focus on specific industries or aggregate the data at a large scale. This chapter demonstrates that aggregation of data at street or suburb level provides a much finer level of detail and enables novel insights regarding the spatial distribution of buildings, population and trades, and furthermore enables new maps to be created that allow changes to these attributes to be mapped and analysed.

Keywords

GIS Urban landscapes Nineteenth century Trade directories Census 

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag London 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.IBM Visual and Spatial Technologies CentreThe University of BirminghamEdgbastonUK

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