Category Archives: Events

Curious Travellers: Thomas Pennant and the Welsh and Scottish Tour 1760-1820

In collaboration with
National Library of Wales

Exhibition: 5-9 February 2018, Summers Room

Lunchtime talk: 1pm, 7 February 2018, the Drwm.

Mary-Ann Constantine will explore the highlights of a four-year project on the Tours of Thomas Pennant (1726–1798) and those who followed in his footsteps. A selection of Pennant’s books and manuscripts will be on display throughout the week in the Library’s Summers Room.

Event held in English

Free admission with ticket

Curious Travellers: Update and Events 2018


Moses Griffith, Penmaen Bach from Penmaen Mawr Road: from the extra-illustrated Tours in Wales

Preparing texts

The research team has been focused for the last few months on preparing selections of letters and tours for online publication. We are planning to launch the first batch of these at a conference to be held this November in the Linnaean Society in London (details below). Getting texts ready for digital publication has proved to be quite a challenge, involving technical aspects (such as tagging names) that go well beyond the usual editorial tasks. But this will make it possible to search the material in many different ways: it should lead to some interesting new angles on Pennant’s correspondence, and will help us to understand how later writers and travellers used his work.  We are, as ever, hugely grateful to our technical team, Luca Guariento and Vivien Williams, for having made this complex process as easy as possible for us.

Exhibition and Events October-December 2018  

The project is in its final year of funding, and we plan to celebrate four very busy years with a series of events in London, centred on a three-month exhibition to be held in the wonderful setting of the Dr Johnson House Museum.  Working with Curator Celine Luppo McDaid, we will explore the famous Highland tour made by Johnson and Boswell in 1775 and its relation to Pennant’s own tours. The letters and tour diaries of Hester Piozzi – Johnson’s close friend and Pennant’s neighbour and relation – will also be included.  Various events are planned during the course of the exhibition: please note the following dates!

4 October: Exhibition Opens: Curious Travellers: Dr Johnson and Thomas Pennant on Tour

30 October: Dr Mary-Ann Constantine will give a lecture to the Cymmrodorion Society

15 November (evening event): Professor Murray Pittock and Professor Nigel Leask will give talks on Johnson and Pennant.

16 November: Day conference and launch of digital texts in the Linnaean Society, Burlington House

14 December (date to be confirmed): An evening of poetry and music at the Dr Johnson House with Scottish and Welsh writers.


Curious Travellers in 2017

We are already over half way through the project, and behind the scenes work is progressing on transcribing, editing and tagging Letters and Tours with a great deal of help from our systems developer Luca Guariento, and our new project assistant Vivien Williams. We have now added a Research Blog to our website, which, like the Walkers’ Blog is open to anyone who wishes to contribute. Several events are planned for the next few months where members of the team will be talking about their work; and we’re delighted to say that the wonderful exhibition which ran at Oriel Sycharth last year will be moving to North Wales, and then to Aberystwyth this summer. A volume of essays on Pennant’s Tours of Scotland & Wales, edited by Mary-Ann Constantine and Nigel Leask, is due out from Anthem Press this spring.

Recent talks

January 26-27, London: Alex Deans gave a paper on Pennant & Banks: ‘With a facility of communication’: Pennant, Banks and collaborative knowledge-making’ at a National Portrait Gallery Workshop: ‘Science, Self-fashioning and Representation in Joseph Banks’s Circles’. [abstract]

February 17, Edinburgh: Nigel Leask and Alex Deans spoke about mapping the Pennant Tours at the National Library of Scotland.

Upcoming events

March 8, Glasgow: Nigel Leask will give a lecture on Thomas Pennant to the Royal Philosophical Society in Glasgow.

April 29 (Edge Hill University): Kirsty McHugh will speak on ‘Leeds, Loch Lomond & the Lakes: the Marshalls, the Wordsworths and home tourism’ at Romanticism takes to the hills.

April 29, Oriel Môn, Llangefni, Anglesey: a Welsh-language day-conference devoted to the Morris brothers. Ffion Jones will give a paper on mutual friends and acquaintances of William Morris and Thomas Pennant. [programme]

May 6 Penpont, Brecon (day-conference, all welcome!): Windows on the World: C18th & C19th Travellers to and from Breconshire. [Programme].

Mid-May – end June: Exhibition: Landscape, Movement, Art at Oriel Brondanw, Llanfrothen. Look out for associated talks and events. We are also hoping the exhibition will move to Old College, Aberystwyth for the month of July – details to follow.

May 12, Oxford (public lecture): Mary-Ann Constantine will give the 2017 O’ Donnell lecture: ‘Curious Traveller: Britons, Britain and Britishness in Thomas Pennant’s Tours’.

June 7-9, Dublin: Mary-Ann Constantine will give a keynote lecture to the annual Eighteenth Century Ireland Society Conference, on C18th Welsh Travellers to Ireland (including Thomas Pennant, who visited as a young man in 1754).

July 10-12, Aberystwyth. Borders and Crossings International Conference, Mary-Ann Constantine will be giving a key-note lecture on Romantic-era travel writing and Coasts, and Liz Edwards will be talking about Hester Piozzi’s Home Tours.

July 29-31, York. British Association for Romantic Studies. Curious Travellers will be offering a panel of three papers by Alex Deans, Kirsty McHugh and Mary-Ann Constantine; Liz Edwards will speak on the tours of Hester Piozzi, and Nigel Leask is giving a key-note lecture on radical pedestrian tours.

October 18 (public lecture): Nigel Leask will be giving the 26th Annual Thomas Pennant Society Lecture at Holywell.

Please do contact us if you have any queries, would like one of our team to talk to your group or society, or if you’d like to write something for either of our blogs.

Hafod: 15 June 2016

Walk around Hafod


The day will consist of a leisurely walk of about four miles in total, with frequent stops for talks and performances. Many (though not all) of these will happen during the first part of the day, so participants could leave earlier if desired. We will aim to have a lateish lunch (bring a picnic) about 1.15. We will be following marked paths, but please be aware that some of these are steep and slippery – more so in the afternoon when we head up to the Cascade. There is no charge for the day, but contributions towards Eglwys Newydd and Hafod Trust would be welcome. There is NO mobile phone coverage: nearest landline is Hafod Estate Offices. Bring anoraks, sun-cream and midge-spray!

Times below are very approximate and our progress will depend on the number of people who turn up. Besides the scheduled talks there will be more impromptu readings / songs as we walk. Any further queries please contact

10.30: Gather at Eglwys Newydd church: parking and toilet available. The Friends of Eglwys Newydd have organized a small exhibition and are kindly offering tea and coffee. The artist Sarah Byfield may be showing some of her maps.

10.50: Jennie MacVe: welcome on behalf of the Hafod Trust

  1. 00: Martin Crampin: Stained glass at Eglwys Newydd

11.20:  Easy walk down (part of the Lady’s Walk) from church to Estates office (20-30 minutes)

11.50 – 12.30: Short talks by Peter Wakelin (the painter John Piper at Hafod) and Peter Stevenson (current film project on stories from the area).

12.30 – 12.50: Outside the ruins of the house: landscape archaeologist Andy Peters on the Treescapes at Hafod.

12.50 -1.10 Easy walk to Mrs Johnes’ Flower Garden. Picnic here if nice, and a chance to explore the work of artist Christine Watkins, who will be making a labyrinth on the grass.

Short talk by Michael Freeman on tourists to Wales.

2.15 pm: Walk (20-30 minutes) from garden, over bridge and loop right, cutting diagonally up to Gentleman’s Walk, and along to the wooded knoll by Pant Melyn.

2.45: Short talk by Mary-Ann Constantine on Iolo Morganwg’s visit to Hafod in 1799.

3pm onwards. From here people can visit the Cavern Cascade (10 minutes’ walk) in small groups – note the path is steep and slippery.

3.30: Option to head directly or indirectly back to Church – the latter route will take in the Chain Bridge and the newly restored Gothic arch, and will probably add 20-30 minutes to the walk.

4-4.30 return to Eglwys Newydd and depart.

Click to download poster

Thomas Pennant and Enlightenment Networks

A One-Day Research Workshop, Saturday 12th September, University of Glasgow

Location: School of Critical Studies, Room 202, 4 University Gardens

Conveners: Prof Nigel Leask (University of Glasgow) and Dr Mary-Ann Constantine (CAWCS, University of Wales, Aberystwyth)

Registration for non-speakers £10 (£5 concessions)

You can register at the workshop, but space is limited, so please contact Alex Deans if you wish to attend.

The Workshop is Part of the four year AHRC-funded research project Curious Travellers: Thomas Pennant and the Welsh and Scottish Tour, 1760-1820 based jointly in CAWCS, University of Wales, Aberystwyth, and the School of Critical Studies, University of Glasgow.

By the time of his Scottish (1769 and 1772) and Welsh (1773) tours, Thomas Pennant was known as a naturalist and the author of British Zoology (1761-66) and Synopsis of Quadrupeds (1771). He had also established a national and international network of learned correspondents, including Sir Joseph Banks, Karl Linnaeus, Peter Simon Pallas, Gronovius, Gilbert White of Selbourne, and Richard Gough. Pennant’s tours are representative of his omnivorous style and interdisciplinary range: he was a renowned antiquarian and a competent historian, art critic and agriculturalist as well as a naturalist. Perhaps for this reason, although frequently cited as witness or authority in other studies, especially on the natural and social history of Scotland and Wales, his texts have rarely been addressed in their own right. Pennant’s ambition was to combine the personal authority of the informed traveller’s eye with the encyclopaedic protocols of enlightenment knowledge making, and his correspondence reveals the extent to which his travel books were based on a laborious process of data collection both ‘in the field’, and at his Flintshire home at Downing. Pennant was also the first domestic traveller to provide extensive visual documentation of his tours, commissioning (or offering patronage) to artists like Paul Sandby, Charles Cordiner, and most famously, his ‘servant artist’ Moses Griffith. The workshop will address Pennant’s Enlightenment networks, with a special focus on natural history and antiquarianism, topographical drawing, and epistolary culture.




9.30 am

Tea/Coffee and Registration, Room 202, 4 University Gardens

10 – 10.15 am

Welcome and Introduction (Nigel Leask and Mary-Ann Constantine)

10.30 am – 12.30 pm

Session 1: Topography and Visual Culture

Murdo Macdonald, ‘Pennant and Charles Cordiner’

John Bonehill, Views of the estate in Thomas Pennant’s Tour of Scotland: picturing ‘His Lordship’s policy’

Ailsa Hutton, ‘Pennant and Moses Griffith’

 12.30 – 1.30 pm

Lunch Break

 1.30 – 3.00 pm

Session 2: Cultures of Epistolarity

Miranda Lewis, ‘Early Modern Letters Online: Networking the Republic of Letters’

Alex Deans, Mark Herraghty, Ffion Mair Jones (Project RAs), ‘Editing Pennant’s Correspondence on the Curious Travellers Project’

 3.00 – 3.30 pm


 3.30 – 5.30 pm

Session 3: Natural History and Antiquities

Dominik Huenniger, ‘Collections, Fish Markets, and Mines: Johann Christian Fabricius’ Travels and the Making of Natural History’

Andrew Prescott, ‘The British Networks of Grímur Jónsson Thorkelín’

Donald William Stewart, ‘Pennant and Rev. Donald MacQueen of Kilmuir’

6.15 pm

Dinner for Speakers




Dr John Bonehill is Lecturer in the History of Art in the School of Culture and Creative Arts, University of Glasgow.

Dr Mary-Ann Constantine is Senior Fellow in the Centre for Advanced Welsh and Celtic Studies, University of Wales, and PI of Curious Travellers.

Dr Alex Deans is RA on Curious Travellers based in the School of Critical Studies, University of Glasgow.

Mark Herraghty is RA and Web Developer on the Curious Travellers Project, School of Critical Studies, University of Glasgow.

Dr Dominik Huenniger is Managing Director of the
Lichtenberg-Kolleg – the Göttingen Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities and Social Sciences. He was Hunterian Fellow at the University of Glasgow 2015.

Ailsa Hutton is a final year Ph.D. student in History of Art at the University of Glasgow.

Prof Nigel Leask is Regius Chair of English Language and Literature, School of Critical Studies, University of Glasgow, and CI of Curious Travellers.

Miranda Lewis is Digital Editor on the Early Modern Letters Online (EMLO) project, University of Oxford.

Prof Murdo Macdonald is Chair of History of Scottish Art, Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design, University of Dundee.

Dr Ffion Mair Jones is RA on ‘Curious Travellers’ Project based in CAWCS, University of Wales.

Prof Andrew Prescott is Chair of Digital Humanities, School of Critical Studies, University of Glasgow.

Dr Donald William Stewart is Senior Lecturer at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig (University of the Highlands and Islands).