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Troubled Waters, Stormy Futures – Bath Spa University

Troubled Waters, Stormy Futures

Heritage in times of accelerated climate change: how do we view, transition towards, or even shape the future, through the past?

Project background

Created in 2013-14 as the result of a lively discussion between three academics interested in the questions around stewardship of heritage sites in the wake of rapidly accelarating climate change. How do we continue with research into heritage preservation, indigenous rights and representation, social equity or the 'beyond human' without acknowledging the climate crisis?

By focusing on three different coastal locations to explore the effect of climate on the the communities, the project interrogated what it means to have stewardship over the future of heritage. The sites included were: Durgan in Cornwall, Porthdinllaen in North Wales, and Kiribati, a low-lying island nation in the Pacific Ocean.

Find out more about the inception of the project in the video below.

Findings and insights

The project highlighted the unforeseen similiarities between the three seemingly disparate case study sites. Soil erosion was a common topic throughout, but particularly profound in Kiribati given the importance placed on the limited land mass; while in the UK issues such as parking and access were underlined.

While the sea can easily be portrayed as a the enemy of these communities, it is important to reflect on the many positives of the coastal location, from subsistence fishing or biodiversity to its cultural and historical significance as a constant signifier for collective identity.

For more perspectives on the findings in Kiribati, see the video below.

For general findings, see the project website.

Project team

  • Sara Penrhyn Jones, Principal Investigator, Bath Spa University
  • Bryony Onciul, Co-investigator, University of Exeter
  • Catherine Elizabeth Rigby, Co-investigator, Bath Spa University
  • Anna Woodham, Co-investigator, King's College London

Research Organisations

Bath Spa University, Kings College London, University of Exeter, Monash University (Australia), Aberystwyth University, National Trust, National Library of Wales, Welsh College (Coleg Cymraeg), Cornish Audio Video Archive.

Funding sources


Photo credit: Sara Penrhyn Jones

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