Citizen science project Heritage Quest wins European Heritage Award / Europa Nostra Award 2022
Gelderland Heritage and Leiden University’s Faculty of Archaeology have won the European Heritage Award / Europa Nostra Award 2022 in the ‘research’ category with the Heritage Quest citizen science project. ‘Heritage Quest has shown that citizens can play an active role in protecting cultural heritage by creating knowledge and that this can build lasting relationships among experts and the wider community.’
Anyone can take part in academic research
Heritage Quest is a large citizen science archaeology project that makes it possible for anyone to join in academic research. Thousands of participants searched elevation maps of the Veluwe region for previously unknown archaeological remains, such as burial mounds, Celtic fields (prehistoric field systems) and charcoal kilns.
The wealth of new information generated by the project is offering new insight into prehistoric society and will be used to protect the archaeological heritage. Active citizen participation has led to not only the project’s success but also greater awareness and appreciation of the unique archaeological heritage in the Netherlands.
‘Archaeology is under constant threat from human influences and is increasingly subject to destruction from climate change. Heritage Quest has shown that citizens can have an active role in protecting cultural heritage by creating knowledge, and that this can build long-term, sustainable relationships between experts and the wider community. This combination of community building and state-of-the-art technology is an exciting way forward for archaeology and heritage projects,’ said the jury.
Recognition for volunteers
The great success of Heritage Quest in the Veluwe region, which has now won this prize, has since led to various other projects, such as Heritage Quest at the Utrechtse Heuvelrug in collaboration with Utrecht Landscape Heritage, Heritage Quest Junior, a variant for 8 to 14-year-olds developed in collaboration with the Cultural Heritage Agency and field research by Heritage Quest volunteers and archaeology students from Leiden University to check the burial mounds found (made possible by the North Veluwe Culture and Heritage Pact and the Cultural Participation Fund). Over 7,000 people actively participated in this citizen science project. This prestigious European prize is a recognition of their great dedication and enthusiasm.
Peter Drenth, member of the provincial executive for Gelderland for heritage: ‘Gelderland supports Heritage Quest because we believe in volunteers. And now it’s proving so hugely popular I’m all the more proud of this initiative. This is recognition for those who selflessly contribute to telling the story of Gelderland.’
European Heritage Awards Ceremony
The winners will receive their awards at the European Heritage Awards Ceremony on 26 September in Prague. The ceremony will be held at the recently restored State Opera and will be presented by the European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth Mariya Gabriel and Europa Nostra’s Executive President Prof. Hermann Parzinger.