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A World War One Engagement Centre, led by historical geographers at Queen’s University Belfast, partnered with communities and institutions nationally and internationally to co-produce research sharing untold experiences of war, enhancing inclusive cross-community understanding of contested heritage.



In 2014, the centenary of World War One (WW1) presented a significant challenge for heritage bodies and communities across the UK and Ireland, as well as a great opportunity on how to commemorate past conflict inclusively.



In 2014, geographers at Queen’s University Belfast created the ‘Living Legacies 1914-18’ WW1 Engagement Centre.

The geographical research draws on geospatial and digital techniques and methodologies which give new grounding and provide new spaces for engagement around contested heritage.



Living Legacies increased public engagement through 120 community projects and 470 supported events which focused on digitally exploring the legacies of WW1 in localities and landscapes. For example, a series of community-based workshops on landscapes, web-GIS and field-survey were delivered by Living Legacies as part of the Council for British Archaeology’s ‘Home Front Legacy’ centenary project. This recorded 5,660 heritage sites across the UK.

Living Legacies explored contested and conflict heritage through digital and spatial humanities. Commemorating critical historical events of 1916 in Ireland had potential to heighten divisions. Living Legacies researchers addressed this concern by creating an outreach programme to work with NI local communities to explore WW1 through ‘sharing heritage’.

The research involved close collaborations for example with National Museums Northern Ireland. This forged partnerships between community groups from different backgrounds and heritage stakeholders and research bodies. The success of these collaborations was recognised by the Department of Culture Media and Sport (DCMS) in a 2019 report outlining the ‘Lessons from the First World War Centenary’.


More information

Institution: Queen's University Belfast

Researchers: Professor Keith Lilley, Dr Paul Ell


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Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) (2023) ‘Living Legacies 1914-18’: Sharing contested heritage through digital and spatial humanities. Available from  Last accessed on: <date>