Commemorative Symposium for Professor Oliver Rackham

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Date(s) - 13/08/2016 - 14/08/2016
All Day

Corpus Christi College


Commemorative Symposium for Professor Oliver Rackham

 Saturday 13th – Sunday 14th August 2016

Prof Rackham2

If you have come this far, to the webpage of the Oliver Rackham Commemorative Symposium, you do not need me to tell you what a central figure he was in the field of historical ecology. Nor, I am sure, do I need to remind you how important he was to Corpus Christi, and Corpus Christi to him. The College is therefore delighted, and honoured, to host this Commemorative Symposium.

The Symposium will bring together a number of people who worked with Oliver, and/or who admired his work and achievements. We are glad to welcome you all here. You will find plenty to absorb, intrigue and amuse you during the two days: talks, discussions, renewal of friendships and professional acquaintances, – and of course, a visit to Hayley Wood, where Oliver did so much of his meticulous research over the course of several decades.

I take this opportunity to thank all those who are contributing their time and expertise to make this Symposium possible. Particular thanks go to Jennifer Moody, who spent a number of seasons working with Oliver in Crete; and to (Professors) Peter Grubb and Alison Smith.  Thus we are able not only to cover woodland and ecology, but also areas such as the College silver and the dendrology/archaeology of the Old Court, another two of Oliver’s many interests.

The College welcomes you to the Symposium, and wishes the event every success.

Stuart Laing, Master of Corpus Christi College


Saturday 13 August 2016

The symposium will be held at West Road Concert Hall, a 10 minute walk from Corpus Christi College.


10:15-11:15    Oliver Rackham at Corpus, his archive and herbarium

Chair:   Stuart Laing, Master Corpus Christi College

10.15-10.35   Stuart Laing, Master Corpus Christi College, will welcome the attendees and talk about Oliver Rackham and Corpus — Oliver Rackham: Corpus Christi student, Fellow and Master

10.35-10.55   Dr Lucy Hughes, Archivist at Corpus Christi College will talk about the Rackham Archive at Corpus — Preserving and Presenting the Archives of Professor Oliver Rackham: the Riches of Research

10.55-11.15   Christine Bartram, Chief Herbarium Technician at Cambridge University Herbarium will talk about Oliver Rackham’s herbarium collection — Out of the Woods: Oliver Rackham’s Herbarium

11.15-11.45  Coffee break

11.45-12.15  Keynote talk by Richard Mabey — Woodland: the community archive

12.15-1.45 Lunch break

1.45-2.50  Talks inspired by Oliver’s involvement with British woods

Chair:  Professor Ian Rotherham (Sheffield Hallam University)

1.50-2.20   Professor Adrian Newton (Bournemouth University)— How the wildwood worked: Rackham’s contribution to forest ecology

2.20-2.50   Dr Louise Bacon (Cambridge Conservation Volunteers) — The resurgence of conservation coppicing and how it started in Hayley Wood

2.50-3.55 Talks inspired by Oliver’s work in the Mediterranean

Chair: Dr Jennifer Moody (University of Texas at Austin)

2.55-3.25   Professor Emeritus Peter Warren (University of Bristol) — Oliver Rackham and the Ancient Landscapes of Crete

3.25-3.55   Professor Diego Moreno and Professor Roberta Cevasco (Università degli Studi di Genova and Università degli Studi di Scienze Gastronomiche) — Oliver Rackham’s impact on Italian Historical Ecology and the study of Biodiversification Processes

3.55-4.20  Tea break

4.20-5.10  Panel discussion on woodland and landscape conservation and management, inspired by Oliver Rackham’s work

Chair: Professor William Sutherland (University of Cambridge)

Discussants: Professor Henry Art (Williams College, Williamstown, MA, USA), Paula Keen (Woodland Trust, UK), Dr George Peterken (formerly of the Nature Conservancy UK and successor bodies), Professor Gloria Pungetti (University of Cambridge and Università di Sassari.) and Dr Kalliope Pediaditi (Environmental Sustainability Consultant & Researcher, Greece).

5.10-5.20  Summing up and thanks

Professor Emeritus Peter J. Grubb (University of Cambridge)

5.20-5.40 Move from West Road Concert Hall to Corpus Christi College


5.50-6.50    College silver, medieval silver inventories, and Ely Coucher Book on display in the Parker Library

Dr Jo Willmott (Keeper of College Silver, Fellow & Praelector of Corpus Christi College) and Dr Berthold Kress (The Warburg Institute, University of London, and former Fellow of Corpus Christi College) will be available to comment on the silver.

The Ely Coucher Book has been kindly lent from Gonville and Caius College to Corpus Christi College for this event in honor of Oliver Rackham.

6.45-7.15 Short recital in Chapel

The Revd. James Buxton, Dean of Chapel, will introduce the music.

7.30-10.00 Dinner in Hall

Stuart Laing, Master Corpus Christi College, will preside.


Sunday 14 August 2016

08:00-08:45    Holy Communion Service in the College Chapel

09.30 and 12:15   Talk in the McCrum Lecture Theatre about Oliver Rackham’s researches on Corpus’s oldest court, the oldest enclosed court in Cambridge

Professor Emeritus Peter Carolin will give an account, based on the discoveries made by Oliver Rackham and with use of his illustrations, of the construction of the oldest surviving college court in Cambridge. Mention will also be made of Oliver’s study of the stained glass in the early nineteenth century hall where his portrait hangs and of the chapel crypt in which he is interred.

The talk will last 30 minutes and will be given twice so that those attending have the chance to go to Hayley Wood too. After the talk those interested are invited to take a self-guided tour of the architectural features discussed. Annotated plans will be provided and helpers will be stationed at most features to answer questions.

08.30-17.30    Excursions to Hayley Wood

Hayley Wood held a special place in the development of Oliver Rackham’s ideas and understanding of Woodland Ecology, and the organizers of the Symposium, in collaboration with the owners of the wood, Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire Wildlife Trust, are pleased to offer this excursion to symposium participants.

Before you book a place, please keep in mind the following points.

  1. There are no seats in the wood.
  2. There are no toilet facilities in the wood.
  3. There is no source of refreshment.
  4. There is very little shelter from the weather.
  5. The leaders will not rush the participants, but they will need to move at a steady pace.
  6. Visitors must use sturdy footwear. This will be especially important if the period before 14 August is rainy, making some of the paths through the wood very muddy.

It will not be feasible to take more than 150 visitors to the wood. If more than 150 people apply for a place, then places will be allocated on a first come, first serve basis, and a short list of reserve places will be made.

Because we anticipate so many people visiting the wood on the guided tours and because there is little room for parking near the wood, it will not be acceptable for participants to travel to the wood independently in their own cars. You must sign up for a place on one of the three coach tours.

Each coach can accommodate up to 50 visitors in addition to three guides or aides. Coaches will leave from Corpus Christi College at 0830, 1115 and 1400 hours, and will be back at Corpus at approximately 1200, 1445, 1730 hours.

Please indicate your first, second, and third preferences as to the time of departure. Note that for those staying in Corpus overnight breakfast will be available from 0730. If participants have to be offered their second or third choice of timing, it will again be done on a first come, first serve basis.

Each coachload will be divided into three groups (blue, red and yellow) prior to departure from Corpus, each group will be taken to the same places in the wood but at different times and in a different order, and each will be led by a local guide and accompanied by two aides. If there is a participant with whom you would like to travel, please record that person’s name in the box below and we will do our best to accommodate your wishes.

Each participant will be given a pamphlet about the wood, including a map, but every participant must agree to move through the wood as a member of a group and not walk around separately.

Please note that the wood is a Site of Special Scientific Interest, and visitors are asked not to take samples of any plant, animal or fungus.

Participants may be assured that qualified first aiders and an emergency assistance volunteer will be on site.

Three visits:

Excursion 1 Excursion 2 Excursion 3
08.30-12.00 11.15-14.45 14.00-17.30


Booking Deadline 30 June 2016

Online bookings are now closed. If you have any questions regarding your booking please contact Mrs Sarah Wordsworth, Conference & Accommodation Manager by email who will be happy to help

We look forward to welcoming you to Corpus Christi College.

If you would like suggestions on what else to visit during your time in Cambridge please download our PDF of suggested locations by clicking HERE.


Bookings are closed for this event.

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