Experiencing the past: the archaeology of some Renaissance gardens
Analytical fieldwork and other archaeological investigation of the topography and physical remains of Renaissance gardens increase our understanding of how such places were originally experienced, together with demonstrating technological progress and developments in garden design. The recovery of the actual details of construction, maintenance and alteration gives an immediacy to the evidence depicted in historical maps and other views or described in contemporary written accounts; it may also be used to corroborate the accuracy of such information. Case studies using a multi-source approach illustrate the nature of surviving archaeological evidence and the scope for its interpretation, showing how an individual setting could be contrived to enhance its qualities, not simply in connection with intellectual meaning, taste, and beauty but equally for social display and to project an image of status and authority. The visibility, form, and function of different garden elements were used both to promote the owner's aspirations and to manipulate the viewer's experience, and investigation and analysis using archaeological methods should be an integral part of future interdisciplinary or collaborative studies.