Pathways to History

We are excited to be able to post about a new landscape history project that we will be running over the course of the year.

Public Footpath

Pathways to History aims to investigate the history of public rights of way in Norfolk. The antiquity of the footpath network has never been fully researched and we are interested in a number of questions:

• How old are footpaths and green lanes in Norfolk?

• How has the number of public rights of way changed in the past?

• Do footpaths and green lanes have a distinct archaeological character?

• What were footpaths and green lanes used for in the past?

• Are there any local names or traditions associated with them?

• How do footpaths and green lanes relate to the wider landscape?

Green Lane

We are looking for volunteers from across the county to take part in the project – to help us carry out surveys of footpaths and green lanes and to carry out archival research into their history. We will be able to provide help, advice and training on fieldwork and research to both individuals and community groups.

We hope that surveying the physical character of footpaths and green lanes will help us to understand more about their history and development. Very old lanes and paths are often characterised as being deeply sunken or eroded, with species rich hedges and distinctive flora like bluebells, primroses and dogs mercury. On the other hand, unbounded footpaths are not always so clearly physically defined. How does this relate to the history and development of green lanes and footpaths? We are also interested in trying to trace the changing number of footpaths and lanes in Norfolk – many parishes were affected by processes like Parliamentary enclosure, so what impact did this have on the footpath network?

We will be running a series of introductory training sessions towards the end of May, and can also run training sessions with community groups who are interested in taking part.

More details are on the project website –

If you are interested in getting involved then please contact Dr Sarah Spooner by email or telephone –

01603 592663



The Bridewell Museum, Norwich

Earlier this month the Bridewell Museum reopened in Norwich, after a £1.5m revamp. The new galleries are very impressive, telling the story of the city from the medieval period onwards.

The museum focuses on the cultural and industrial history of Norwich, as well as the daily lives of its inhabitants. One of the first new galleries is a recreation of an eighteenth-century coffee house – Norwich was well-known in the period as a cultural and social centre. In the coffee house you can try on wigs and tricorn hats, as well as leafing through copies of the eighteenth-century newspapers produced in the city.

Other galleries tell the story of the businesses and industries which made Norwich famous in the post-medieval period, particularly weaving and textile production which was a huge industry in the city during the eighteenth century. When Daniel Defoe visited Norwich in the 1720s he wrote that

If a stranger was only to ride through or view the City of Norwich for a day, he would have much more reason to think there was a town without inhabitants… if he was to view the city, either on a Sabbath-day, or on any public occasion, he would wonder where all the people could dwell, the multitude is so great. But the case is this; the inhabitants being all busy at their manufactures, dwell in their garrets at their looms, and in their combing-shops, so they call them, twisting-mills, and their other work-houses, almost all the works they are employed in being done within doors.

The museum has many examples of the cloth produced in Norwich – dresses, shawls, pattern books and more, as well as a jacquard loom – one of the last examples which was still working in the early 20th century.

Colman’s, of course, get a look in, as do Caley’s, Boulton and Paul, Start-Rite and other local companies.

There are more than 5,000 objects on display, as well as many more in drawers which you can explore for yourself.

In the entrance is a giant photo mosaic, the History Wall, made up of photographs of the city and its people contributed by members of the public. You can see some of the individual photos in the project Flickr pool, but it is worth a visit to see them all together on the History Wall.

We thoroughly recommend a visit if you are in Norwich – opening times and other details are on the museum website.

Ancient Trees and Woodpastures – Autumn Conference

TreesOn Saturday 8th October 2011 UEA will be hosting the Society for Landscape Studies Autumn conference, ‘Ancient Trees and Woodpastures’ with speakers including Tom Williamson, Della Hooke and Andrew Fleming.

Ecologists and arboriculturalists have long emphasised the importance of ancient and traditionally-managed trees, and in particular the concentrations of such trees found in wood-pastures, for their role in maintaining biodiversity. Landscape historians are increasingly making their own, distinctive contribution to this important area of study. Why are ancient trees found where they are? How were trees managed in the past, and why? What did past generations think about old trees? In this conference some of the country’s leading landscape historians consider these and other important questions, placing ancient trees firmly within their wider historical contexts.

The deadline for conference registration is 16th September 2011 (forms can be downloaded here) and the cost is £20 or £12 for students.


Rob Liddiard (UEA) ‘What was a deer park?’

Patsy Dallas (UEA) ‘Wood-pasture commons in post-medieval Norfolk’

Della Hooke ‘Anglo-Saxon wood-pastures’

Tom Williamson (UEA) ‘The landscape contexts of ancient trees: a Norfolk case study’

Nicola Whyte (Univ. of Exeter) ‘Trees and memory in early-modern England’

Andrew Fleming (Univ. of Wales) ‘The pollards of Powys: working with Welsh wood-pasture’