FOOTPRINTS – tales of ecology and human impact in the Surrey Hills

I’m really excited to announce an event coming up later this month, and a fascinating project I’ve been involved in since May.

On Thurs 29th Jul, I’ll be leading storywalks at Hindhead Commons, Surrey, looking back at how human actions have shaped the landscape since the earliest times. This is is just one activity at Hidden Hindhead, a full day of family events at this stunning National Trust site as part of the national Festival of Archaeology. And what’s more, these walks are part of Footprints, a project I’ve been developing to explore the impact that humanity has had, and continues to have, on the heaths and woodlands of Surrey.

Footprints is a commission from Surrey Hills Arts, to create artistic work that engages people with local landscapes on the theme of climate change. Working with local archaeologists and historians, and learning from enthusiasts and other storytellers, I’ve been immersed in the history of three different sites: Hindhead Commons, Frensham Little Pond and Hascombe Hillfort. And out of this treasury of knowledge and thought, I’ve composed storytelling performances for each location, drawing out how the environment as we see it has been shaped, damaged, nurtured and defined by human activity for thousands of years. For good or ill, we have created the current landscape – and the future of both ourselves and the other organisms with whom we share the land will depend on our future actions.

As well as the Hindhead storywalks, I have recorded podcasts to share stories for all three sites: these will be released by Surrey Hills Arts in the near future, AND hopefully be available by QR codes at each site, for visitors to enjoy as they walk through the landscape. There may even be more in-person events at other sites in the months ahead. It’s been a fascinating and joyful experience, exploring some stunning places and meeting some wonderful people. I can’t wait to share the results with you – keep your eyes peeled for more announcements!

Footprints has been funded by Techne Doctoral Training Partnership, who have kindly given me an intermission from my PhD studies to develop this project.

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