Hidden Histories of the Ring
Bethany Whalley examines the history of The Ring
A research project
The Industrial Revolution. Sophisticated lock systems. James Brindley and Thomas Telford. Aqueducts. Horse-drawn boats and towpaths. ‘Canal mania’. These, perhaps, are the things that come to mind when we think about British canals. And rightly so – they were all hugely influential in shaping the canals that we can visit and enjoy in the twenty-first century.
Yet there’s another story to be told. Britain prior to the Industrial Revolution, had a dynamic network of managed waterways for trade and transport that alternately flourished and declined throughout Roman Britain and into the medieval era. Sometimes, it’s difficult to imagine what these waterways would have looked like; for academics, reconstructing a narrative involves piecing together fragments of evidence from manuscripts, images and archaeological digs.
This blog series exists to tell some of those hidden premodern histories of The Ring and its surroundings – histories that, when you look a little closer, become just as significant as the region’s modern industrial heritage. As well as revealing little-known tales of Worcestershire’s waterways, bimonthly blogs will investigate how The Ring’s artworks and events can help us think differently about the past, and how stories from the past can shed new light on contemporary art.