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The University of Southampton
HistoryPart of Humanities

Research project: Merchant Shipping and Seafarer Communities (c.1300-c.1600)

Currently Active: 
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Underpinned by two UKRI-funded projects Craig has been investigating English merchant shipping and maritime communities for several years.

Dr Craig Lambert
Fig.1 Dr Craig Lambert

His research takes a fresh methodological approach to investigating these topics by creating large relational databases of ships (including the working lives of tens of thousands of seafarers), which allow him to quantitively analyse the size of the English merchant fleet. By drawing on his datasets and other sources (probate, taxation records, government surveys, admiralty records, and legal documents) Craig also reconstructs the working and personal lives of seafarers over the late medieval and Tudor periods.

His work so far has produced a free to access website that houses a database of over 53,000 ship-voyages from c.1400-c.1580 undertaken from (and into) English, Welsh and Channel Islands ports, which has helped tens of thousands of users with their research. Additionally, he also mapped English ship voyages as way of visually demonstrating the trading reach of English ports over the late medieval and Tudor periods. Linked with the website Craig has developed a set of free to access teaching resources for A-Level students, and, based on his interests, he recently wrote an article on ‘The Age of Discovery’ for the Modern History Review, a publication aimed at A-level students. He works closely with community groups and local government in areas of history and heritage, helping, for example, Eastleigh Borough County’s Culture Team, to develop the ‘Great Ships Trail’ (a permanent open air exhibition featuring interactive sound and display boards) based on Henry V’s Grace Dieu (constructed c.1416-20 sank 1439) which now lies as a wreck in the River Hamble. His work on Henry V’s Agincourt campaign (1415) featured on the front page of The Guardian, and appeared across several other media outlets, including the BBC and local radio stations. He has created interactive activities based on his research: most recently a ‘Discover Maritime History’ exhibition for the University of Southampton’s ‘Hands on Humanities ‘day. In July 2020 Craig published (with Professor Claire Jowitt and Professor Steve Mentz) an edited volume that examines all aspects of maritime history and culture for the period 1400-1800. 

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