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Runnymede Explored App students


Our Runnymede Explored app was created by 19 students from across our academic deparments. Below, some of our students talk about their experiences creating the app and their roles in developing the legacy of Magna Carta. 

Abi Baines


Just as my first academic year at Royal Holloway was coming to an end, and I was going to have to say goodbye to the place that I called my second home, I was given the fantastic opportunity to write an Ecology trail for the Magna Carta 2015 app. Now to some that may not seem like a fun fuelled summer, but being given the chance to test what I have learned so far and to interest others in the diversity over the Runnymede area was certainly my kind of thing.

Over the weeks of writing this trail I have grown particularly fond of the Runnymede meadows, as they have fantastic diversity (being a Zoology student this is always a key aspect of why I appreciate something!) and they have such a monumental link to history.

Having had the Magna Carta sealed out in the meadows nearly 800 years ago, I bet Barons and Baronesses witnessing this event would never have guessed how much of an impact the document would make all over the world today, but it has.

Although the Runnymede site is spectacular, and has a lot of historical significance, my favourite part of the trail definitely has to be the three Ankerwycke points. Armed with just a camera and a note pad, trundling around the site just made me feel like all was right with the world, and the tranquil peace that you feel walking around is something you won’t soon forget.

The 2,500 year old yew tree based right in the heart of Ankerwycke was certainly a site to behold, and just to see that made doing the trail worthwhile. The fact that such a tree has lived through so much history is fantastic, and with new stems continually entwining around old, it makes for speculation of immortality.

Working on the App with other peers from Royal Holloway has been a remarkable experience, one I shall not forget, as is all the knowledge I shall take with me from this. Ecology and Runnymede now have a more prominent place in my thoughts, and I was very lucky to take part in such a big project, and to have learnt so much from everyone taking part.

Zosia Edwards

Zosia Edwards

My name is Zosia Edwards, and I'm a medievalist, through and through. I was lucky enough to have a childhood spent traipsing round historic houses and rugged ruins, and I came to love the experience of immersing myself in these places. I delighted in engaging with the places where real people lived their lives, fought their battles, ate their food, and died their deaths. I developed a love of the past, and this naturally led me to pursuing a history degree.

In my degree I’ve focused on medieval history, and while I still love wandering around a good castle in my spare time, I’ve had the chance to study the events, the ideas and the beliefs that shaped people's lives. I've studied medieval medicine, popular religion, and the intricacies of medieval magic.

I've been writing the politics trail for the Magna Carta 800 app, and it's been a fascinating experience. For the most part, the things I've studied have very little direct influence on the world today, but despite the fact Magna Carta was written at the same time as many of these, it has had an almost constant place in modern politics. Magna Carta was written with a very specific set of aims in a context completely alien from our world today, and the fact that it can still be cited by modern politicians is truly remarkable.

While my passion is medieval history, I've always been interested in learning as much as I can about almost any subject in any time period, and this project has given me the opportunity to break through all sorts of chronological boundaries. It's refreshing to be able to follow the story of Magna Carta through the ages, without having to stop in 1500 because that is where the medieval period supposedly ends.

Writing this trail has been an amazing opportunity for me, and I think any project which aims to increase public understanding of the past is definitely worthwhile. It’s important to emphasise Magna Carta’s continued influence in global politics almost 800 years after its conception, and I hope I’ve been able to do this justice. It is truly a privilege to be able to write for a project like this, and I’ve loved every minute of it.

Anna Hamilton

Anna Hamilton

Having been Volunteer Curatorial Assistant at Egham Museum and Collections Intern at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, I couldn’t wait to start my next venture in the world of heritage. The opportunity to be part of a Magna Carta editorial and research team for a series of trails around Runnymede looked the perfect next step! Research, accessible heritage and the foundations of modern democracy – what’s not to love?!

With eight different trails to choose from, the content covers many different interests. What I hope users of the app will find is a fresh, engaging and multi-layered account of the sealing of the Magna Carta in 1215 on Runnymede Meadow. From Arts to Ecology, Geography to Politics, the research team and I have scoured the archives and knocked on many different doors to produce a series of fun, accessible and fact-filled trails that will bring your experience of Runnymede to life!

The project has enabled me to use and refine my writing and research skills that I gained from my degree in Geography, Politics and International Relations at Royal Holloway, University of London. It has also allowed me to gain experience working in a project sponsored not only by my university, but the National Trust and three other local authorities.

In my role as editor I have led a small team of researchers in helping them produce the Geography, Arts and Politics trail suitable for the app style. I have also entered eight separate trails into the app database, and I have researched and written content for the Walking Guide based on the idea of liberties associated with the Magna Carta.

Overall it has been a fascinating and fulfilling experience, and the ideal way to bridge the gap between my humanities undergraduate degree and my masters degree that focuses specifically on arts and heritage in the city of London. It has helped me develop my writing, editing and communication skills that will no doubt be essential for careers in the heritage sector in the future. 

Emma Hogan Fleming

Emma Hogan Fleming

September 2013, I embarked on a journey to a small town just outside the M25 which previously was unknown to me. I was about to start a Public History MA at the beautiful Royal Holloway University in Egham and I had no idea that my new home was utterly saturated in Magna Carta legacy.

Sadly, beyond an old mustard coloured document with rather small illegible handwriting, Magna Carta didn’t ring any bells at all. However, after a year involved with the National Trust’s 800th birthday preparations for Magna Carta in 2015, I am relieved to say I know a lot more. It has become extraordinary to me that of all places in the ageing globe, my new abode bordered the wet meadows of Runnymede where King John met his knights and barons to lay the first foundation stone of democracy for not just England, but countries all over the world; and the area lies virtually untouched still.

The age of round tables and Robin Hood suddenly had a whole new meaning to me and hopefully it will soon resonate with many more generations through many local/ nationwide events and an upcoming free resource I have been helping to grow…

The National Trust Runnymede Magna Carta App has allowed myself and a few of my fellow MA classmates to walk in the footsteps of the medieval pioneers in a yearlong process. (Wellies required). Personally, I volunteered to research and design the Children’s trail in its entirety. It is a creative process of discovering the many areas of Runnymede, their rich history and their secrets before designing content.

Therefore, the trail I have been able to construct will be a lively mix of fun facts and activities surrounding the treasures of the whole Runnymede site. The App will give all ages an accessible and active modern experience in an ancient location as well as a tool to use at home or in school with friends or family.

It has been a genuinely rewarding process full of surprises delving into Magna Carta’s roots and I now have no doubt that next year will be a chance to pause and reflect on how far we’ve come since King John sealed that fragile document nearly 800 years ago.

I am finishing my MA very proud to have been a part of reimagining Magna Carta for a young audience in 2015, a year which doesn’t just promise opportunities for all ages and nationalities to engage with pivotal beginnings but perhaps also offers a chance to shed some light on the ‘dark ages’ and their society’s remarkably bright ideas.

Sally Toon

Sally Toon

The work of the heritage sector, and its ability to interpret and present the past to diverse audiences through many different and exciting methods, has interested me for some time now. I therefore cherish the opportunity to delve into the local histories of new areas, and this was the case when I moved to Egham to study at Royal Holloway.

As a Geography student at Royal Holloway, I was first awakened to the international significance of Magna Carta and the complex natural and historical landscape of Runnymede in a first year tutorial task in which I visited the three major memorials of the area: the American Bar Association Magna Carta Memorial, the Commonwealth Air Forces Memorial and the John F. Kennedy Memorial.

Now entering my third year of study at the university, I am embarking upon a dissertation concerning Magna Carta and how this helps shape local identity, in conjunction with Egham Museum. Undertaking this study close to the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta has fuelled my desire to increase, and share, my understanding of how Magna Carta’s legacy has helped define the characteristics of Runnymede and the surrounding area.

When the opportunity arose for me to work on the Magna Carta App and develop my ideas in a way in which I could also make a contribution to the anniversary commemorations, I was delighted.

I’m creating a trail about the Geography of Runnymede that explores how the rich natural environment of Runnymede and the history which surrounds it have served to create a complex landscape identity.

I want to offer visitors exciting and enlightening information about how Runnymede fulfils a broad range of roles – from a natural and agricultural landscape with meadows and a riverside location, to a landscape of leisure with a history of horse racing, sun bathing and boating, and a landscape of celebration and commemoration with a past of pageants, ceremony and memorials.

I have very much enjoyed my experience working on the App. It has enabled me to work in an encouraging team environment, to develop my research and writing skills and finally it has given me an even deeper appreciation of the dynamic existence of Runnymede, something I hope that users of the App will gain too.


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