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Blue Willow Heritage Welcomes Sophie Pearson

Welcome to the Team, Sophie!

Sophie is a professional heritage consultant with experience working on, and providing advice for, a diverse range of projects from small scale residential developments to large scale renewable energy infrastructure schemes, across the UK.

Sophie has recently moved to Blue Willow Heritage from Lanpro Services, a multidisciplinary planning consultancy specialising in town planning, landscape, and infrastructure projects. In her previous role, Sophie worked as a Graduate Heritage Consultant and was responsible for providing consultancy, fieldwork, and reporting services within the historic environment and archaeological sector. Sophie gained extensive experience, working on a wide variety of projects from Heritage Action Zone Schemes to Conservation Management Plans for large country estates throughout North Yorkshire.

Whilst working as a Graduate Heritage Consultant, Sophie also completed her master’s degree (MA in the Conservation of Historic Buildings) which she undertook at the University of York. The course provided her with essential practical and professional skills in historic building conservation which she was then able to apply to her final dissertation. This focussed on the analysis of the conservation management of rock-cut dwellings in the UK. Sophie sought to assess the extent to which natural and anthropogenic disturbances are threatening the condition and significance of these structures, affording particular attention to Kinver Edge and the Rock Houses (Staffordshire), which she used as a case study to illustrate the issues encountered and evaluate how they are currently managed.

Kinver Edge and the Rock Houses comprise a unique set of rock-cut dwellings which have been carved out of the Kinver Edge escarpment. The Rock Houses were home to Britain’s last troglodytes and were occupied until around 1960. Through critical evaluation of a wide breadth of academic research, her thesis demonstrated the significance of adopting an interdisciplinary approach. In doing so, it highlighted the complexities of studying a building type that is little valued and poorly understood. Ultimately, it concluded that the survival of rock-cut dwellings is dependent on continued research into the procedural methods required for effective conservation as well as the establishment of good codes of working practice. Kinver Edge and the Rock Houses remains a firm research interest for Sophie, and is a topic that she will explore in greater detail in her next blog post.

Prior to completing her Masters, Sophie completed an Undergraduate Degree at the University of Southampton, where she achieved a Second Class BA (Hons) (Upper Division) in Archaeology and Anthropology. Sophie took a range of modules that inspired her final year thesis. This focussed on the wild, wailing, warriors of Scandinavia, and took the form of an interdisciplinary study assessing the potential archaeological signatures of Norse Berserkers. Throughout her time at Southampton, Sophie also participated in several university-run excavations, including four weeks of fieldwork in the Spačva Basin, Croatia; led by UAISK in collaboration with University of Southampton, National University of Taiwan, and Centre for Fine Print Research. Sophie gained a wealth of professional archaeological skills and site prospection skills as well as taking part in educational community work.

Outside of work, Sophie has a keen interest in Georgian architecture and has recently been elected as a trustee of the York Georgian Society as well as an Assistant Historic Building Representative for the City of York and Environs. Her favourite Georgian building in York is the Assembly Rooms, a grand 18th century ballroom previously used as a place for high class social gatherings in the city. Sophie looks forward to continuing to encourage the conservation, restoration, and maintenance of Georgian York. Sophie encourages anyone who lives in and around York to check out the range of wonderful events happening between the 3rd and 5th of August as part of the annual York Georgian Festival.

On the odd occasion that Sophie is not exploring historic buildings, she can usually be found competing in Latin and Ballroom dancing. Sophie is lucky enough to have competed at both a regional and national level, in an impressive variety of venues, including the iconic Blackpool Tower designed by the English architect Frank Matcham.

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