Heritage and Historic Landscapes are good for you!

Human Henge: Historic landscapes and mental health at Stonehenge

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  • Ground-breaking project about archaeology, mental health and creativity
  • Cultural therapy through a number of journeys across the Stonehenge World Heritage Site into the world-famous stone circle.

Human Henge is a collaborative project run by the Restoration Trust in partnership with Richmond Fellowship, English Heritage and Bournemouth University with support from the National Trust and Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust.

The project draws on ideas that Stonehenge was once a place of healing and explores the relationship between people, place and the past. It examines whether a creative exploration of historic landscapes can help people with mental health conditions.

Through a programme of participant-led activities, 32 local people living with mental health problems and on low incomes, come together for fun, therapeutic adventures, with experts, carers and support workers in this remarkable and inspiring ancient landscape.

Laura Drysdale, Director of the Restoration Trust says, “We hope that Human Henge will get people doing things they’ve never contemplated before, from star spotting on the cursus, to chanting poetry inside the stone circle, to presenting at conferences, curating an exhibition or publishing a book. That’s the whole Human Henge journey.”  

Participant Andria Walton says, “Human Henge is a personal journey of healing for me. I live with emotional health issues, and I feel very comfortable and accepted with this group. It’s meaningful to learn about our ancient cultures, it’s exhilarating being in the open air, it blows away the cobwebs. It’s rejuvenating and revitalising.”

The group is accompanied by curators and artists, archaeologist Professor Tim Darvill, and musician and creative facilitator Yvette Staelens, as they explore the monuments, features and layers of meaning in the Stonehenge landscape, enabled through the participation of English Heritage and the National Trust. Each series of journeys end with a ceremony inside the Stone Circle, collaborating with musician Chartwell Dutiro at Winter Solstice or Spring Equinox. The final activity is devised by the participants in response to their individual and shared experiences on their journey.

Professor Tim Darvill of Bournemouth University said “Human Henge has really opened up new ways of looking at the Stonehenge Landscape and thinking about the way people might have used it and experienced it in the past. By spending time at a selection of the sites around Stonehenge it becomes possible to think about the landscape, the skyscape, and the monuments themselves. We can look at how their form structured the way people approached them and moved around them. Materials such as stone and clay come to life in your hands as you think about their uses and meanings, while sounds help the imagination travel back in time to the world of the early farmers.”

Speaking of one of their journeys in the landscape, one participant said “It was a day of connections, connecting to new people, a new landscape and maybe in some small way our ancestors.”

Another added, “This week was reflective. It was about connecting on a personal level with the landscape by listening to the birds and the wind, feeling the cold, sitting in the grass and being surrounded by these amazing burial monuments.”

“The experience felt completely natural and restorative. Perhaps we were connecting to something beyond us. The stones towering over you remind you of your smallness in this big world, and yet bring you together as part of a wider history with our ancestors.” 

Martin Allfrey, Senior Curator of Collections, English Heritage said “We all know that visiting historic sites and engaging with artefacts from the past can be inspiring and fun but we’ve never tried to measure the benefits that historic places can provide for people suffering from mental health issues.  We are really pleased that Stonehenge is the focus for this groundbreaking project, which brings together expert researchers from Bournemouth University and local people in Wiltshire.  We hope that not only will the project add to the quality of life of those taking part but we also want to share the results widely, promoting a much greater understanding of the health and well-being benefits of engaging with historic places”.

 

The Human Henge project runs until June 2018. Findings and further questions will be explored and shared through activities, focus groups, exhibitions and conferences.  You can follow progress on the Human Henge blog humanhenge.org/news/

 

 

Notes to editors

  1. Human Henge enables 32 local people living on low income with mental health problems plus carers and volunteers to experience Stonehenge with expert guidance. They create an epic poem and ceremony that affirms the abiding connection between people, place and the past.
  2. Human Henge engages disadvantaged people living in Wiltshire in a therapeutic sensory experience of the World Heritage Site.
  3. Human Henge is a partnership with English Heritage, Richmond Fellowship and Bournemouth University supported by the National Trust and Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust. The project is also part funded by Wiltshire Council Amesbury Area Board and English Heritage.
  4. About the Restoration Trust: We help people with mental health problems engage with art, culture and heritage; we call it culture therapy. Our life-enhancing projects are partnerships between arts and heritage organisations and organisations that support people with mental health conditions. We research the evidence of what works for wellbeing, and we spread the word about what we do. http://www.restorationtrust.org.uk
  5. Exhibitions at Amesbury Library, Salisbury Museum Festival of Archaeology and Bournemouth University, and proposed presentations at Theoretical Archaeology Group conference 2017, Culture, Health and Wellbeing international conference 2017 and an international  Archaeology and Wellbeing conference 2018 share learning with the public and professionals.
  6. About the Heritage Lottery Fund: From the archaeology under our feet to the historic parks and buildings we love, from precious memories and collections to rare wildlife, we use National Lottery players’ money to help people across the UK explore, enjoy and protect the heritage they care about.  www.hlf.org.uk.
  7. For further information, images and interviews, please contact
    Laura Drysdale, Director of The Restoration Trust on mobile 07740 844883 and email laura@restorationtrust.org.uk
  8. Find out more about Human Henge at www.humanhenge.org

 

Norwich Consolidated Charities funds Culture Quest

We are delighted to announce that Culture Quest (CQ) has been awarded £10,000 by Norwich Consolidated Charities. As a result, the music appreciation group with people with complex mental health problems who live in Norwich can continue to meet weekly at Norwich ARts Centre for another year. We can also extend our research with UEA psychologist Dr Victoria Scaife so that we have 18 months of decent data to help us plan for the future; Dr Scaife’s interim report suggests that participants feel less isolated and more resilient as a result of attending the group.

CQ is a simple, innovative, cost-effective way to connect very marginalised local people with each other, with their love of music, and with great cultural resources in Norwich. It addresses needs such as loneliness, mental illness, social exclusion. CQ fits with the Recovery agenda that underpins NSFT strategy, and Norfolk County Council Health and Wellbeing Strategy’s theme of Improving Mental Health. We think that CQ can be part of the local offer to people on personal health budgets through clinical commissioning groups, and we will be working up a business plan with that in view.

Here is what we know so far. 

  1. CQ plays to people’s strengths rather than their weaknesses because the focus is on a shared love of music. A support worker says: ”It has really helped my clients to make friends, socialise and have something positive to do.”
  2. CQ is accessible to mentally ill people who love music and use it to feel good. One member says “I think it is a good way to help people through music.”
  3. CQ is safe. One member says:” I have no worries about CQ, it is a friendly place to come and everybody is very friendly.” People can participate even though their symptoms may be active.
  4. CQ connects people. One person says: “I like being in a group of people in different situations.
  5. CQ encourages tolerance. A member says: ”The thing that attracts me to CQ is different pieces of music that people bring in each session.”
  6. CQ enables curiosity. One person says: ‘It is good to hear some weirder more experimental stuff.”
  7. People share a small part of themselves through their choices. One member plays his own mixes, another played a track her boyfriend had written and recorded.
  8. Members pay a small fee, thereby giving to the project.
  9. Members are included in local culture. They ‘belong’ at Norwich Arts Centre; subsidised tickets and support enabled one person to attend his first concert in 30 years (Max Richter, Theatre Royal); one heard his first live orchestra (Britton Sinfonia, St Andrews Hall); legendary session musician B J Cole led a workshop.
  10. CQ normalises engagement with very marginalised people at Norwich Arts Centre, contributing to NAC and Arts Council England aims of ‘Great art and culture for everyone.

INFORMATION FOR EDITORS

CQ partners are Norwich Arts Centre, Julian Support and the Restoration Trust.

The Music Appreciation Group is run by Dave Pullin.

CQ is managed by Laura Drysdale and enquiries should be addressed to her at laura@restorationtrust.org.uk

Human Henge wins Heritage Lottery Fund support

Today, The Restoration Trust has received £53,400 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for Human Henge, a partnership with English Heritage, Richmond Fellowship and Bournemouth University supported by Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust. The project is also part funded by Wiltshire Council Amesbury Area Board (£2,224) and English Heritage (£3,000).

website-banner_banner-website Based at Stonehenge, Human Henge engages disadvantaged people livin in Wiltshire in a therapeutic sensory experience of the World Heritage Site. Over ten weekly three-hour sessions two groups walk the landscape with archaeologist Professor Timothy Darvill OBE and other experts. Their journey ends with a ceremony inside the Stone Circle, near the Winter Solstice and Spring Equinox, collaborating with musician Chartwell Dutiro. Drawing on recent ideas that Stonehenge was a place of healing, as they walk in the steps of others before them our participants contribute a new layer to the multiple understandings of this enigma. Human ends in June 2018. It includes exhibitions, conferences and research examining whether a creative exploration of historic landscapes achieves sustained measurable health and wellbeing outcomes for people with mental health conditions.

Human Henge enables 32 local people living on low income with mental health problems plus carers and volunteers to experience Stonehenge with expert guidance. They create an epic poem and ceremony that affirms the abiding connection between people, place and the past. Exhibitions at Amesbury Library, Salisbury Museum Festival of Archaeology and Bournemouth University, and proposed presentations at Theoretical Archaeology Group conference 2017, Culture, Health and Wellbeing international conference 2017 and an international Archaeology and Wellbeing conference 2018 share learning with the public and professionals. A website and social media link to partners’ websites, reaching a wide audience. Interdisciplinary evaluation and research evidences this pilot project’s heritage, community and health outcomes.

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Stonehenge is the most architecturally sophisticated prehistoric stone circle in the world and, with its associated landscape and related monuments, demonstrates Neolithic and Bronze Age ceremonial practices between 3,700 and1,600 BC. Stonehenge and its landscape are precious to visitors from around the world (more than 1,350,000 p.a.); to scholars as a unique and still incompletely understood site; and to people seeking inspiration as an ancient and magnificent ceremonial centre and burial place. Stonehenge and 6,500 acres of surrounding landscape are inscribed as a World Heritage Site (WHS). The Stone Circle and most monuments within the landscape are Scheduled Ancient Monuments. Parts of the landscape are Sites of Special Scientific Interest. The WHS includes parts of Amesbury and Larkhill, plus several villages. Two output areas in the Amesbury Community Area are amongst the 30% most deprived in England. Amesbury East is the most deprived OA in Wiltshire. Rural deprivation in the area contributes to isolation and poor mental health.

Commenting on the award, Laura Drysdale, Director of the Restoration Trust, said: “We are thrilled that the Heritage Lottery Fund has supported Human Henge, a brilliant opportunity for people living with mental health conditions to connect with one of the greatest prehistoric monuments in the world. Stonehenge is an incredible site, so it’s great that Human Henge helps Richmond Fellowship clients in Wiltshire overcome barriers to access and share that adventure with the wider public.’

Nerys Watts, Head of Heritage Lottery Fund South West said: “We are so pleased to be part of this exciting project which will add to the quality of life of those taking part now and enable us to understand further the health benefits of engaging with heritage into the future.”

 

 

 

www.humanhenge.org