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Lancaster District Insights Hub, June 2023

Seeing the bigger picture through data and insights

Date Published: 18 July 2023

Jointly led by Lancaster City Council and Lancaster University the Insights Hub is an active network of collaboration-minded people in the Council, the University and beyond.  A forum for actual and potential collaborators to meet, share ideas and information in order to support the District to flourish. 

Sarah Rees, Head of Stakeholder Relations at Lancaster University
Jonathan Noad, Chief Officer Sustainable Growth at Lancaster City Council

The following insights were shared and discussed at the June 2023 Insights Hub.

Professor Andrew Binley, Lancaster Environment Centre

Andrew an expert in hydrogeophysics at Lancaster Environment Centre presented his research suggesting the discovery of an extraordinary Romano-Celtic temple under public land near Lancaster Castle. When Heritage Lottery funding ran out in 2017, Andrew offered to use his research expertise and equipment to continue the work of the Beyond The Castle archaeological project.  Since then, Andrew has been working with professional archaeologist Jason Wood and a group of PhD students to undertake geophysical surveys on Castle Hill. During the survey process a ground penetrating radar looks at reflections in the subsurface. Interpreting these, evidence suggesting of the foundations of a Roman-Celtic temple became apparent. View Andrew’s presentation here.

 The full story of the discovery can be found on Lancaster University’s web site. The findings are outlined in the paper ‘Lancaster Romano-Celtic temple is significant find’ published by British Archaeology.

Andrew was keen to discuss how can these findings be built upon, and Lancaster’s Roman Heritage promoted. Carolyn Dalton, Museum Development Manager at Lancaster City Council gave an update on the current situation. As there is a lot more to the site than Roman history, (there is also medieval history), Historic England are very keen  that a Research framework is developed to guide the site, its archaeology exploration and community use and engagament.

The City Council has set up an expert advisory group that is helping to develop a research framework for the fort site and related adjacent areas so that priorities for future investigation can be decided based on what they know so far. The first step is to develop a summary document that brings all archaeological information, museum collections and community and history use into one place. Insights Hub members contributed and discussed ideas around public engagement, Impact Accelerator Accounts and useful contacts that could help to produce the summary document, build on the work to date and maintain momentum.

Professor Jo Knight, Lancaster University Research Director for the Eden Project.

Jo shared an update on the Eden Morecambe Partnership, research undertaken and funding bids in development involving Lancaster University, Eden Project Morecambe and wider partners. Current research projects include:

The Bay – a blueprint for recovery – Coastal communities were heavily impacted by loneliness and isolation during the global pandemic. By helping people immerse themselves in various wellbeing activities including guided walks, beach cleans and art, the project is benefitting the communities of Wyre, Morecambe and Barrow-in-Furness.

Wetland Times is comparing time language and concepts across three global wetland landscapes including Morecambe Bay. The findings will inform conservation and environmental practices by enriching understanding of time, empowering communities to reconsider prevailing temporal narratives.

Five projects have been delivered as part of QUENCH – a networking linking the Quality of Urban Environments with Nature Connectedness and Health to create urban ecosystems that benefit people and the environment. Learn more about the five collaborative projects awarded pump-priming grants through QUENCH here.

Claire Muir, Head of Population Health Transformation and Change Lead, NHS.

The Morecambe Bay Anchor Collaborative are supporting anchor organisations to identify, develop and share how they can positively contribute to the Bay area by influencing the health and wellbeing of communities and impacts on the wider social, economic and environmental factors that make us healthy. Claire presented the different kinds of data and metrics the Anchor Collaborative are developing to evaluate their collective impact. The priority areas shown below have been jointly identified as to where the collaborative will focus on in order to make a tangible, measurable difference:

1) Widening access to quality work
2) Reducing environmental impact
3) Purchasing and commissioning for social value

The Anchor Collaborative are interested in the different ways they could approach this evaluation and in working with Lancaster University researchers who are interested in helping to develop metrics for each area in terms of how change can be measured. Lancaster University researchers who are interested in partnering and helping the collaborative capture the right information were invited to contact Claire.

View Claire’s presentation with further information on the Anchor Collaborative and the metrics they are in the process of developing here.

Future Insights

Finally, participants were invited to shape future Insights Hubs meetings with a discussion and a Slido.Com exercise asking: 1) what insights they would like to hear at future events, and 2) what insights they would like to share.  Collated responses to the first question can be seen in the image header.

The next Insights Hub is planned to take place on the 2nd October 2023 at an in-person event at Lancaster Town Hall. 

 If you would have insights you would like to share at a future Insights Hub meeting, or would like to receive invitations to Insights Hub meetings please email Kirsty Chekansky, Partnerships Coordinator at Lancaster City Council at kchekansky@lancaster.gov.uk

The Insights hub is a practical outcome of the MOU between Lancaster University and Lancaster City Council. It has been energised and supported by the Beyond Imagination project funded by Research England in ImaginationLancaster.