Context 155 - July 2018

C O N T E X T 1 5 5 : J U L Y 2 0 1 8 33 Theory and practice with compelling accounts of their experiences and place perceptions, partly because of the informal nature of the walk and the egalitarian relationship afforded with the researcher. Many of the limitations of the method are also glaringly apparent. Mobility issues exclude certain people from taking part, while not all historic places are particularly walkable. Other problematic factors include adverse weather conditions, restricted daylight hours, and highly variable noise levels affecting the quality of sound recordings. Some participants may feel uncomfortable when interviewed in public places, while the relatively contrived nature of the process, however naturalistic in its set up, sometimes reduces the spontaneity of the encounter and the richness of the ensuing conversation. Critically, ethical and safety con- siderations permeate the methodological choices and subsequent implementation, particularly as interviews are frequently on a one-on-one basis. It is important to point out that the walking interview and associated methods draw on dis- tinctive philosophical understandings of heritage and place. Indeed, places, whether considered historic or otherwise, are more than simply defined by their physical form and tangible attributes. They also derive their meanings and significance from the relationships that people develop with and through them over time, intimately linked to the activities, experiences and practices undertaken within. The process of valuing the historic environment is inher- ently dynamic in nature, presenting numerous challenges for heritage policymakers and practi- tioners, particularly in meaningfully integrating social and communal values into all facets of decision-making. Several academic studies in the UK have utilised walking interviews to explore peoples’ experimental and emotional attachments with historic places. For example, Madgin et al’s (2018) research on the Undercroft skate spot at the London Southbank Centre encompassed a mixture of archival research, filmmaking, oral histories and walking interviews. The research- ers sought to identify the cultural significance of the skate spot for generations of skaters, informing their reinterpretation of the concept of authenticity to embrace the social experiences and expertise of users over time, not simply expert valorisations of existing material fabric. The pursuit of methods not typically employed in conservation practice was a conscious deci- sion to capture the social and intangible values associated with this everyday heritage, giving expression to the participatory aspirations of numerous international conservation charters and conventions. In another study, Yarker (2017) accompanied resident-run walking tours around the Grade II* listed Byker social housing estate in Newcastle upon Tyne, drawing on participant reflections to highlight interpretive gaps between what is The renamed Ebrington Square viewed from the Peace Bridge in 2018