Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

S. Elizabeth Bird, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Kevin Yelvington, D.Phil.

Committee Member

E. Christian Wells, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Glenn Willumson, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Corinna Wagner, D.Phil.


England, Anthropology, United Kingdom, Public Archaeology, History


Heritage, the “present-centered” use of the past (Ashworth 2007) influences the identities of contemporary citizens (Palmer 2005, Sommer 2009). Grasping the ways in which the production and consumption of heritage takes place is becoming increasingly relevant in a post-Brexit Britain, where the national identity is constantly up for debate. This research asks: what role does heritage tourism play in (re)producing hegemonic national narratives in Glastonbury and Tintagel? And subsequently, what do these narratives say about broader conceptualizations of English identity?

Arthurian legend permeates the historical narrative in both locations. According to the legend, King Arthur was conceived and born in Tintagel, and ultimately buried in Glastonbury. Both Glastonbury and Tintagel are located in the southwest region of England and are home to significant national heritage sites. In Glastonbury, heritage sites include Glastonbury Abbey, Glastonbury Tor and the Chalice Well Gardens. In Tintagel, heritage sites include Tintagel Castle, King Arthur’s Great Halls, St. Nectan’s Glen and the Arthurian Centre.

Methods for this ethnographic comparative study include classic participant observation, semi-structured interviews, ethnographic photography and archival research. The focus here is on the producers of heritage (heritage management employees, local shop owners and community members) rather than the consumers (tourists and travelers). By using a holistic political economy approach, this research reveals how heritage is both contested and commodified in both Glastonbury and Tintagel. Rather than understanding “authorized heritage discourses” (Smith 2006) as simply the result of hegemonic forces imparted by heritage management organizations, this research reveals the nuances created by the commodification of heritage in both Glastonbury and Tintagel, where tourism plays a significant role in the local economy.