Curious Travellers: Thomas Pennant and the Welsh and Scottish Tour 1760-1815

On 1 September 2014, thanks to an AHRC research grant of £785,784, the Centre begins a brand-new Romantic-period project: 'Curious Travellers: Thomas Pennant and the Welsh and Scottish Tour 1760-1815'. Run jointly with the University of Glasgow, the project will explore travellers' accounts of their journeys into Wales and Scotland, with a focus on the writings of the Flintshire naturalist and antiquarian Thomas Pennant (1726-98), whose published Tours of both countries did so much to awaken public interest in the 'peripheries' of Britain. 

This project will open a window onto the vivid and often entertaining accounts of scores of 'curious travellers' who headed for the edges of the British Isles in search of the primitive, the picturesque and the sublime - and often found the foreign, and the unsettling, surprisingly close to home.

A view of north Wales from the extra-illustrated Tour in Wales, courtesy of NLW Led by Principal Investigator Dr Mary-Ann Constantine (CAWCS) and Co-Investigator Professor Nigel Leask (Glasgow), the project team will include Dr Elizabeth Edwards and Dr Ffion Mair Jones of CAWCS, with Dr Mark Herraghty and another research assistant providing Scottish expertise and technical support in Glasgow. We will produce two freely available research tools: a database of Pennant’s extensive and scattered correspondence, and a searchable online corpus of some sixty previously unpublished Welsh and Scottish tours; two monographs and various articles. We will also develop a ‘Curious Travellers’ website as a lively source of information about the experience of travel in Scotland and Wales in the period. It will include clickable maps of selected routes and a bibliography of hundreds of published and unpublished Welsh and Scottish tours. With the help of Dr R. Paul Evans of Denbigh High School, sections of the website will be developed to provide useful resources for the school history curriculum.

Thomas Pennant, courtesy of NLWA series of conferences and exhibitions based in national and local museums and libraries across Wales and Scotland will highlight the visual and material aspects of the tour, from landscape-painting to Roman antiquities and natural history. Creative events will include some of our most prominent artists and writers retracing Pennant’s itineraries (in all weathers) to create their own modern versions of the Tour; look out for pictures, poems and disgruntled comments on our Pennant blog!