Diana Dixon from CILIP Local Studies Group committee presented the certificate for the 2016 Alan Ball Award to Peterborough Local Studies and Archives Service for their interactive website Peterborough in the Great War on May 3rd 2017. Despite keen competition this was clearly the winner and Diana pointed out how impressed she had been initially with looking at a changing display on Peterborough Station […]
When we think about local history, it is perhaps easiest to think about the use of the land; those who made use of it and the changes they brought. The landscape is constantly transforming from season to season. There are changes in industry, in working practices, settlement use and advances in technology from cement to the combine harvester to the motor car.
But what about the impact art has made on the landscape? Creativity goes hand in hand with inspiration of the landscape, and we often see the results of this creativity in art galleries, museums; in our own homes. The 2014-2019 HLF funded project Creative Wiltshire is looking at the impact that creativity has made on our county, acquiring items made by creative people on behalf of the county’s participating museums, archive and local studies libraries. More recently the project has been considering public art; the extent, location and condition of works in Wiltshire and the role it plays to enhance the places where we live and work.
I have been running a number of volunteer workshops, calling for volunteers to help locate, investigate and map public art in the county, and our discussions have centred on that quite often very personal idea of what exactly is public art? To some it is an eyesore, to others a show of creativity to inspire others, a display of craftsmanship, perhaps sometimes evoking a sense of community effort or setting a community’s celebration or commemoration in time.
Public art is vulnerable; sometimes temporary, sometimes controversial, but without it we would not be a society which strives, which shares, which inspires, which provokes thought in spaces that are open to all. What a richer society we are because of it.
Art is part of who we are. It is an important addition to local history which gives us an insight into the mindset of communities past and present.
There’s still time to take part in the Public Art Project. Visit
Visit Creative Wiltshire and I hope to see you soon!
County Local Studies Librarian & Project Co-ordinator
Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre
You can find out more about our astonishing discovery at Avebury by listening to the Radio 4 Today programme podcast (interview at 53 mins 30 secs) http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b08vwn6f
The Fovant badges are famous, but less well known are those at nearby Sutton Mandeville. The Sutton Mandeville Heritage Trust has received £88,300 by the Heritage Lottery Fund to restore the regimental badges of the Warwickshire Regiment, and the 7th (City of London) Battalion of the London Regiment which are sited alongside each other on the hillside and which have both become overgrown. They were cut by soldiers in 1916 when they were training at Sutton Mandeville before they were sent to the Front.
Local people decided they wanted to restore the badges to commemorate the centenary of the First World War. Work is beginning this summer.
Find out more about the work and the Heritage Trust here.
Although there was historically a Summer Fayre at Stonehenge held on traditional midsummer’s day of the 24th of June, it was only comparatively recently that the association between Stonehenge and the Summer Solstice Sunrise was realised. Before Britain adopted the Gregorian calendar in 1752, the summer solstice had slipped out of sync with the old […]
No, not 100 walks, but walks across, around and through an English hundred. This is something I began last summer, source of the flower photos I posted (see also The Confusing Case of the Norman Arches), and intend to resume this year. In fact, I have already begun (see Tipping a Wink at Whitlingham and this walk—From […]
It’s been 40 years since the group was established and over the years they have been involved in many different activities, from helping on archaeological digs and surveying lost village sites as well as publishing ten books to date.
The group has been working on research and a display around the Wroughton VC and war memorial. A permanent memorial to William Gosling VC has been unveiled as part of the refurbished War Memorial.
Today they continue research into old local newspapers and have been transcribing the census returns, trade directories, and records of births, deaths and marriages for the village so that these details will be easily available for future research.
A regular programme of events and meeting is held throughout the year. Meetings are held in St Joseph’s Church Hall, Devizes Road, Wroughton from 7.30pm to 9pm.
Open evenings are for everyone to get together over tea/coffee and chat about events – members often bring items of interest, such as old photographs, for a group discussion. All are welcome to join meetings at any time – the first visit is free and then non-members are charged £2 per visitor payable on the night.
If you would like to join the Wroughton History Group just turn up at one their meetings – see the group’s website for further details.
Middle Ridgeway by Eric Jones and Patrick Dillon tells the story of the chalk downland of the North Wessex Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in a refreshingly new way, considering the themes of the influence of the London market for trade and agriculture, the relationship between ploughland and grassland, land use and countryside sports, all of which have contributed to make the MR what it is today.
Also taken into account are perspectives from nature conservation and the ecology of the bird population over time, using practical examples to show how environmental history can expand our view of the landscape. Historical literary references are included and add much to the text, with extracts from authors such as Richard Jefferies and Alfred Williams well chosen to vividly portray the MR over time and illustrate the changes, both in terms of wildlife and also the customs and way of life for those who resided in the area. The archaeological record is also considered, as are the difficulties of evaluating data which is often historically patchy.
The artwork by Anna Dillon beautifully complements the prose, encouraging the reader to reflect on a sense of place and giving a wonderful colour and texture to the book. Jones and Dillon have utilised a wide range of historical material from diaries to trade directories, estate records, excavation reports and ornithological reports. Middle Ridgeway showcases the use of these varied and under-used, perhaps in some cases unfamiliar sources, providing a clear understanding of how they can be of practical use when researching a landscape to enable a more comprehensive study.
Middle Ridgeway aims to look at the landscape from a new angle; to combine the ecological and historical record to weave a story; to give a sense of place to what is a beautiful and compelling landscape. Jones and Dillon have been inspired by the idea of ‘storyline’; engagement with an area which connects people, places, events and ideas across place and time. With a clear and easy to read prose, MR has the power not just to help the reader understand the Middle Ridgeway as a unique environment, but it also provides the tools and inspiration to enable everyone to look more closely at the places which matter to them.
An extremely enjoyable read, Middle Ridgeway offers a unique insight into the study of the landscape. References are described within the text and there is a bibliography at the end. It is excellently written and thoroughly researched.
This publication offers a refreshingly different approach to the study of the landscape. A highly recommended read for anyone interested in local history, social history, agricultural history and nature conservation, as well, of course, for those who love the North Wessex Downs.
Middle Ridgeway was published by Wessex Books in 2016. Priced £16.95, it is available from all good bookshops, Amazon and direct from the authors via http://middle-ridgeway.co.uk/
Julie Davis, County Local Studies Librarian, Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre
Stonehenge has a long varied succession of functions.