Using Acoustics to Explore Lived Experience at Late Medieval Sites

Catriona Cooper (University of Southampton and The National Trust)

The subject of lived experience in the middle ages has been a relatively neglected topic. However, the tendency has been to examine the remains without addressing questions on the experience of living. The study of lived experience through the theoretical approach of phenomenology has been discussed frequently in prehistory but it has rarely been applied to medieval sites: it provides one way of thinking about the examination of life through the lost or decontextualized material culture from a novel, personalised perspective. Unlike the prehistoric setting, the quality and quantity of data available from the medieval period allow these theoretical advances to be taken a step further and to generate materials that can be used directly to inform interpretation for the public.

This thesis will apply digital media technologies to questions of what it was like to live in a castle or great house at the end of the middle ages through two digital projects. This poster will discuss an acoustical project at Ightham Mote. Acoustical survey is used to record the impulse response of three rooms at Ightham Mote. These measurements will be used as a method for exploring how sound was experience in these three spaces of the building and will discuss how well they were suited to their purpose.

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