Celebrating World mental Health Day on the 10 October provides a very suitable occasion to promote the recently published volume of papers entitled Historic Landscapes and Mental Well-being. The result of a cross-faculty research programme, the editors include Timothy Darvill, Kerry Barrass, and Yvette Staelens from FST and Vanessa Heaslip from FHSS.
Contributions to the volume arise out of the public outreach work associated with the HLF-supported Human Henge project, including a session at the Theoretical Archaeology Group (TAG) meeting at the University of Cardiff in December 2017, and a whole-day multi-disciplinary conference held at Bournemouth University in April 2018. The aim of bringing these papers together was two-fold. First, is to illustrate how archaeological sites, ancient landscapes, and the historic environment more generally, are being used rather successfully as tools to enhance mental health well-being in a range of communities across Britain and beyond. The projects and approaches described deserve wide recognition for their international levels of originality in terms of the deployment of aspects of the historic environment in novel ways, the significance of what is being achieved in changing people’s lives for the better, and the rigour that has been applied in thinking through the underpinning logic and the practices themselves. Second, is to prompt further debate about the contribution that the historic environment can make to the attainment of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal 3 over the next decade or so, and to assess the contribution that this work can make to delivering public value from heritage assets.
Using archaeological sites and historic landscapes to promote mental health well-being represents one of the most significant advances in archaeological resource management for many years. Its potential contribution to health-care and wellness initiatives is boundless. Prompted by the Human Henge project working within the Stonehenge and Avebury World Heritage Site, the papers in this volume provide an overview of work going on across Britain and the near Continent at many different scales. Contributors share experiences, and discuss the outcomes, implications, and theoretical underpinnings of heritage-based well-being projects.