Mapping the Cultural Component:Toponyms as the Indicator of Historic Landscape Character for Inheriting the Sence of Place

Authors and Affiliations: 

Diechuan Yang,PhD candidate. Department of Landscape Architecture,
Huazhong Agricultural University, China.

Corresponding author: 
Diechuan Yang

Toponym, a sort of regional unique symbol, is the consequence of the long-term interaction between nature and culture, containing three features. (1) the toponym is a carrier material of layered landscape, which records the historical, geographical, and scenic information, having strong stability and identity.(Jett, 1997) (2) It both understands the characters of physiography, and intensively reflects the social, national and religious character of the region. (3) As a media between inherent memory and contemporary landscape, the toponym inherits the sense of place for activating the cultural patrimony (Stephen Rippon, 2013).

The methodology of Historic landscape character (HLC) is applied to trace the imprint of the past on landscape (Clark, Darlington and Fairclough, 2004). The toponym as the living landscape heritage provides cultural and natural carrier materials for “time-depth”, which evidences a sophisticated variation. It describes a continuous past environment, indicating the historic land-use categories, historic landscape pattern and different territorial boundaries, through a language map approach.

This research will take an empirical research in Chinese Lushan National Park that is evaluated as a Cultural Landscape in 1994 by UNESCO. This case study is developed in the following steps: firstly, with the analysis of GIS(kernel density estimation model) and mathematical analysis, above 200 toponyms are selected and classified into two types: natural toponyms and cultural toponyms; Secondly, with definitive and descriptive classifications, the natural toponyms could contain three types: the topography, the hydrology, and plants. And the cultural toponyms contain three types: stone carving, religious building, modern villas. Finally, with the time-stratification of different regions, the distribution of toponyms could be mapped, the key spatial framework within the regional history context can be described, and the boundary of Lushan’s cultural field can be identified.


Clark, J., Darlington, J., & Fairclough, G. J. (2004). Using Historic Landscape Characterisation: English Heritage's Review of HLC; Applications 2002-03. English Heritage and Lancashire County Council.
Jett, S. C. (1997). Place-naming, environment, and perception among the canyon de chelly navajo of arizona. Professional Geographer, 49(4), 481–493.
Stephen Rippon. (2013). Historic landscape character and sense of place. Landscape Research, 38(2), 179-202.

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