Sonic heritage: listening to the past


History is so often told through objects, images and photographs, but the potential of sounds to reveal place and space is often neglected. Our research project ‘Sonic Palimpsest’1 explores the potential of sound to evoke impressions and new understandings of the past, to embrace the sonic as a tool to understand what was, in a way that can complement and add to our predominant visual understandings. Our work includes the expansion of the Oral History archives held at Chatham Dockyard to include women’s voices and experiences, and the creation of sonic works to engage the public with their heritage. Our research highlights the social and cultural value of oral history and field recordings in the transmission of knowledge to both researchers and the public. Together these recordings document how buildings and spaces within the dockyard were used and experienced by those who worked there. We can begin to understand the social and cultural roles of these buildings within the community, both past and present

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