Sources for English Local History (Sources of History)


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Maybole in Ayrshire for example had many streets renamed through the influence of a local minister. A particular tradition that exists in parts of Ayrshire in Scotland and probably elsewhere, is to rename places after old family homes or estates, places of particular personal interest, etc. Landowners often altered names, such as that of Culzean castle, which used to be 'The cove', named after the caves that the castle stood on.

Little Dreghorn near Dreghorn in North Ayrshire was changed to Fairlie after the family's main home on the Ayrshire coast. Clues can also be found by speaking to local people who may provide the pronunciation of a name from a map, etc. Another difficulty with the interpretation of placenames, standard expressions, etc. Words may also take on new meanings which supplant the original, for example a 'turnpike' was used for the spiral stairs in a tower and became more familiarly a term for the Toll Roads first constructed in the 18th-century.

Some descriptive terms were used very much in one locality, such as that of 'bastel-house' being confined to the East and Middle March of the Scottish - English border. Some names can link certain features to industrial activity in the past, such as the name 'Red Boiler' which referred to the manufacture of soap at one particular site. Here the clues were that a plentiful supply of hardwood trees was a pre-requisite, together with a supply of animal carcasses, both of which the site had once provided in abundance.

The folk memory of cast iron cauldrons at the site and the characteristic colour added to the circumstantial evidence. Changes in the spoken language of an area results in the loss of some placenames and the corruption of others. Such changes may reflect such transition as that from Pictish to Gaelic to Scots and finally to English. The spelling of personal names, like that of placenames, was highly variable and only became consistent in the 19th century in many cases. Some spelling usages may reflect cadets of a family, such as with the Cunnnighame family, who used Cunninghame for the Glencairn and Corsehill branch; Cuninghame for Caddel and Monkredding; Cunningham for Baidland and Clonbeith; and finally Cuningham for Glengarnock.

When following family trees it is worth noting that many heirs changed their names to retain a traditional surname, as with the branch of the Seton family who inherited the Earldom of Eglinton and took the Montgomerie name associated with that title. This practise was sometimes a condition of inheritance or an act of gratitude. Imagery from aerial reconnaissance is especially common from the first and second world wars. Some of which can be viewd in 3D.

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Such photographs are held by the Imperial War Museum and turn up at antique fairs, through on line auction, sites, etc. Various websites can now provide satellite imagery which gives an overview, often in considerable detail, of areas which are being researched. Many sites additionally have live links on the satellite image which provide further details and sometimes link to sites such as Wikipedia, often providing much more information to the researcher. Features are usually easy to follow, such as Corpse roads, old railways, castles, rivers, rig and furrow systems, etc.

Taken together with maps, satellite imagery can clarify or add substantially to existing knowledge on a particular topic. The imagery is however not 'live' and can be several years old. Crop marks are sometimes visible, indicating the course of old roads, the position of old dwellings, etc.

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Due to the imagery being from above, some vertical structures can be hard to make out, only being visible by the shadows they cast, etc. There is no alternative than to keep an open mind and to develop or seek expert advice when making deductions from features in the landscape. Oliver Rackham is well known for his pioneering work on woodlands, leading to a better understanding of previous landscapes, which sustained lost crafts such as sawyers, digging temporary sawpits which collapsed upon themselves to leave 'grave' like features.

They are often found in old woods, close to water and occasionally made with stone sides. Even old land usage can be deduced to some extent through examining the plants present, the form of trees, particular woodland boundary features, the presence or absence of coppicing, etc. Some plants for instance have been known to linger on in one locality from the days of the monasteries and their 'physic' gardens.

A visit is often essential, although satellite imagery can be a partial substitute. Local people rarely have a deep knowledge of their locality's history, however such information can be invaluable. It is often the case that site visits uncover the existence of primary sources of material such as photographs, deeds, etc. Additionally, personal contact with other local historians may result from meeting people local to an area.


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Many places have a rich folklore and tradition which can be both a help and a hindrance. Usually a kernel of truth is associated with such historical records, however they often suffer from exaggeration, fusion with other events, the 'Chinese whispers' phenomenon and other corruptions of historical accuracy. It is important for the researcher to remain impartial and often the simpler the version the more truth it holds. False memory syndrome is a very real problem and questions to 'local' interviewees should be framed without any leading facts which could distort the correspondents memory at that time or later.

Selena's Tree is an example of how stories develop. This tree stands near Kilwinning in Ayrshire, Scotland.

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One legends records that it was the meeting place of lovers; a man from Eglinton castle and a woman from the town. A second legend records that it was where a local witch was burned at the stake. The first story is pure romantic fiction, the second confuses the site with the nearby place of execution where a witch was executed and the truth is that a local lady named Selena walked to this tree every day for many following a stroke at a relatively early age.

Wikipedia and Wikibook sites enable local historians to make their work available to a very wide audience, inviting the assistance and contributions of others. Contacting 'interested' individuals via email, post, etc. Researchers in other countries often have an interest in work done by local historians, leading to productive communications and furtherance of objectives.

The writers of articles do not have any form of veto and it is inevitable that opinions will sometimes differ, resulting in edits which may or may not be a real improvement. Such is life!

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The important thing is to keep enthusiastic and pursue the Wikiway democracy. One great advantage of writing information on websites such as the various Wiki sites is that it will not get lost or corrupted by accident; it is a secure home therefore. A disadvantage, certainly on Wikipedia, is the less than perfect hard copy provided through the printing options.


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From Wikibooks, open books for an open world. Observations relative chiefly to picturesque beauty on several parts of England. Cumberland and Wrestmorland. The Baronial and Ecclesiastical Antiquities of Scotland. The Place Names of Cumbria. Cumbria Heritage Services. ISBN X. For many localities, there may be more than one history. There are hundreds of histories about English parishes. Use the Place Search and type a locality. Histories are often available at major public and university libraries and archives. The 'Victoria County Histories' is an important ongoing series of local histories for most counties.

Each entry includes general background and history from pre-Roman times and individual chapters on industry, economy, and history. Pedigrees or histories of prominent individuals and occupants of historic homes are often included. Call numbers for these histories are found in the FamilySearch Catalog. Use the Place-name search, search for a county, and select the topic of History. The Gregorian calendar, the one commonly used today, is a correction of the Julian calendar, which, because of miscalculated leap years, was 11 days behind the solar year by England began using the new calendar in Eleven days were omitted to bring the calendar in line with the solar year.

The day after Wednesday, 2 September , became Thursday, 14 September Also at that time, the first day of the year changed to 1 January.

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Before , the first day of the year was 25 March. Pre dates may be confusing. For example, the day after 24 March was 25 March Dates between 1 January and 24 March are often recorded using a technique called double dating. To request editing rights on the Wiki, click here. From FamilySearch Wiki.

Sources for English Local History (Sources of History) Sources for English Local History (Sources of History)
Sources for English Local History (Sources of History) Sources for English Local History (Sources of History)
Sources for English Local History (Sources of History) Sources for English Local History (Sources of History)
Sources for English Local History (Sources of History) Sources for English Local History (Sources of History)
Sources for English Local History (Sources of History) Sources for English Local History (Sources of History)
Sources for English Local History (Sources of History) Sources for English Local History (Sources of History)
Sources for English Local History (Sources of History) Sources for English Local History (Sources of History)
Sources for English Local History (Sources of History) Sources for English Local History (Sources of History)

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