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Jon is an historical archaeologist who specialises in historic landscape studies and commemorative practices. He completed his AHRB funded PhD at the University of East Anglia in 1996. It was the first systematic study of historic commemorative practices that demonstrated the relationship between the forms and frequency of church monuments and social and economic factors. After a short period as a part-time lecturer at UEA, he spent a year at the University of Wales, Bangor before being appointed at the University of York in 1999. He is now a senior lecturer and course director of the MA in Historical Archaeology and the MA in Historic Landscape Studies which he established in 2001.
His current research focuses on eighteenth and nineteenth century rural landscapes and their global connections, exploring the relationships between colonial and domestic environments. He is currently directing excavations at Harewood House near Leeds.
Bringing together issues of use, management and perception, he has also taken his research into new inter-disciplinary areas. As Academic Secretary to the Yorkshire Country House Partnership, he has been central to the development of new approaches to their collections, communities and landscapes, which have most recently resulted in major exhibitions at four estates. Further dimensions have been added through tracing the links between English estates and their counterparts in the Caribbean. Currently exploring the impact of estate holdings in the West Indies on the English rural landscape, Finch was recently invited to act as convenor for an AHRC funded workshop on Empire and Landscape in the Long 18th Century, and will be developing these interests over the next few years.Alongside his research on estates, Finch has also continued his established work on the archaeology of commemoration, his standing in the field reflected in his recent invitation to contribute to Ruralia 2006: an international conference on social identity in the Medieval world. He has published on memory and the construction of social identity, on the significance of iconographic changes in commemoration before 1400, and on the impact of the Reformation on forms of remembrance. Extending this to look beyond monuments and into the domestic realm, he will embark on a substantive book on the subject; Death, Memory and Identity in Britain (1000-1850) in 2011.
His current research is focused on the archaeological significance of designed and agrarian historic landscapes. His new landscape project based on estates in Yorkshire addresses several key issues in the development of social and cultural landscapes including their use and management, as well as changing perceptions of these environments. A key element concerns the relationship between these domestic landscapes and the colonial landscapes being exploited by the same families.
Jon was involved in running a series of AHRC-funded research workshops 'Empire and Landscape in the Long Eighteenth Century', which explored the construction and representation of the colonial landscapes in the eighteenth century.
He is also running an exciting new project on estate landscapes associated with country houses and their landowners, working closely with the Yorkshire Country House Partnership to develop innovative archaeological approaches to estate landscapes. Four houses (Brodsworth Hall, Burton Constable, Harewood House and Temple Newsam) are running Heritage Lottery funded exhibitions, 'Work & Play: Life on the Yorkshire Country House Estate' in 2007 and 2008 based on the project.