Transactions of the Thoroton Society, vol 112 (2008)
New History Publications
Nottinghamshire County Council's Libraries Archives and Information Publications Programme aims to promote the local history and heritage of Nottinghamshire and in particular the resources of the County's Library and Archive Service. It seeks to identify and extend the range of published material and aims to produce a small number of high quality publications a year which are commercially viable and have a popular appeal. Recent publications include Southwell Inns and Alehouses by Roger Dobson (£6.95), Turning Back the Pages in Old Broad Marsh and Narrow Marsh (£3.50), Turning Back the Pages of Raleigh Cycles of Nottingham (£3.50) and Turning Back the Pages in Old Carlton (£3.00). Orders can be sent to Libraries, Archives and Information, 4th Floor County Hall, West Bridgford, Nottingham, NG2 7QP (please add £3.00 for postage and packing).
In an essay 'A petition from the prisoners in Nottingham gaol, c. 1330', in Medieval Petitions: Grace and Grievance, edited by Mark Ormrod, Gwilym Dodd and Anthony Musson (York Medieval Press, 2009), Thoroton Society member and member of Council David Crook explores the fascinating background to a remarkable petition from eighty prisoners in Nottingham gaol, asking to be released from the gaol because they were dying from hunger. They asked for the appointment of Richard de Willoughby and Richard de Whatton, two Nottinghamshire knights, as judges to try them, so that they could be released if found not guilty. They were in fact tried and mostly acquitted by the king's Justices in Eyre, who were already sitting in Nottingham but who had, the petitioners complained, so far failed to try them. Their roll shows that in fact over 200 prisoners were tried, of whom 197 were acquitted, 4 pardoned and only 8 hanged; the names of all of them are listed. Crook suggests that the moving force behind the petition was the prisoner with the highest status, Sir Hugh de Eland, a Yorkshire knight who had been a rebel against Edward II in 1322 and was being held for two raids against the property of Nottinghamshire men in the Worksop area and a kidnapping. The failure of the county sheriff, Sir Edmund de Cressy of Hodsock, to arrest Eland earlier led to his losing his office and being gaoled himself.
The last edition in the current run of East Midland Historian has recently appeared. Articles in Volume 16 (2008) include 'An Examination of the Occupational Health of Women in the years before and after World War One: the experience of Nottinghamshire', by Wendy Jones, as well as a very useful list of the dissertations produced, over the period 1983-2008, in connection with the University of Nottingham's Advanced Certificate in Local History/Certificate in Higher Education (Local History) and the MA in Local and Regional History. Copies of the journal are available from the Centre for Continuing Education, School of Education, Dearing Building, Jubilee Campus, Wollaton Road, Nottingham, NG8 IBB at a price of £9.95.
Launch of Nottinghamshire Archives Worldwide online catalogue
Nottinghamshire Archives Worldwide catalogue (NAWCAT) was launched in December 2008. NAWCAT will provide access over the internet to catalogues of archives held at Nottinghamshire Archives. Following the launch, catalogues will go live in phases on nawcat.nottinghamshire.gov.uk. Members should regularly check the site to see which new catalogues have been released. Once all the electronic data has been edited and released, the next phase is the conversion of forty years of paper catalogues.
Southwell Minster Archives
Nottinghamshire Archives Office has been awarded a grant of £38,000 by the National Cataloguing Grant Scheme for Archives to catalogue the Southwell Minster archives. The Southwell Minster archives, dating from the 14th century, are an important source not only for the history of the Minster but also for local and family historians. They were deposited with Nottinghamshire Archives in 2003. The grant will enable the collection to be fully catalogued and the catalogues made available on the internet. The archives will then be fully accessible to the public for research and can be used in exhibitions and learning projects. The grant will allow the employment of an archivist and the establishment of a volunteer project to carry out the necessary preservation and packaging work. It is planned that the project will commence in April 2009 and be completed by November 2010.
Members will of course be aware that the vast majority of archaeological endeavour within the county is funded from the pocket of commercial developers, aggregate companies and the public purse. Over the past months, archaeology has been hit hard on a number of fronts including the credit crunch and ensuing recession, proposed changes in legislation affecting archaeology within the planning process and by changes in funding through the principal distributor of government funds, English Heritage. These then are difficult times for archaeology within the county, as for us all.
While it is probably too early to judge the impact of recession on commercial archaeology, anecdotal evidence suggests that archaeological contractors working within the county are feeling the pinch through a combination of increasing pressure from clients to cut costs, falling order books and the inevitable greater competition between archaeologists seeking to hold on to a share of a declining market. The Institute for Archaeology, the professional body for archaeologists', has responded to recession by keeping a careful eye on developments; their latest report is alarming, with evidence that across the UK, 345 archaeological jobs have been lost in the quarter from 1 st October 2008 to 1st January 2009, representing 8.6% of the jobs in commercial archaeology and 5.0% of the entire UK archaeological workforce. The implications for the maintenance of a skilled and enthusiastic workforce in what has always been a poorly paid profession need hardly be spelt out.
English Heritage, the government agency charged with the care and maintenance of England's historic environment, has played a significant role in funding archaeological excavation and research since its creation in 1983. Over recent years, its budget for funding archaeology, always too small and with constant competitive demands, has been significantly supplemented by monies from DEFRA in the form of the Aggregates Levy Sustainability Fund (ALSF), a levy on aggregate production introduced in 2001 and which, between 2002 and the present, has provided English Heritage with in the order of £4m additional funding each year. Nottinghamshire has always done well from this fund, largely because of the initiatives of Trent Valley GeoArchaeology, of which more later. Unfortunately, in 2008, after public consultation, DEFRA slashed the proportion of ALSF monies available to archaeologists through English Heritage to a modest £lm a year, of which half is ring-fenced for English Heritage's new responsibility for maritime archaeology. On top of recession, this further funding cut will undoubtedly impact on the progress of archaeological research in Nottinghamshire, as elsewhere.
A further uncertainty affecting archaeology and heritage more widely is the demise, for now at least, of the Government's promised Heritage Protection Bill. The Bill, which promised reform to the over complex parallel system of Scheduling and Listing as well as, at last, the creation of a legal obligation on local authorities to maintain authoritative historic environment records, was removed from the Queen's Speech at the last moment, meaning that it will not be put forward in the present parliamentary session. English Heritage and the profession as a whole are putting on a brave face, but this is without doubt a setback for the integration of heritage issues with planning reform and is further bad news for archaeology. Chris Robinson, our archaeological notes editors, comments further on this development elsewhere in this volume.
So what of the good news? Members may already be aware of the activities of Trent Valley GeoArchaeology, a loose confederation of archaeologists, planners and other interested parties set up largely at the initiative of our former County Archaeologist, Mike Bishop. Since its inception, TVG has been instrumental in co-ordinating archaeological research in the Valley of Nottinghamshire's premier river and the results of its efforts, ranging from a history of the aggregates industry in the Trent, written by Dr Tim Cooper of the University of Sheffield (Laying the Foundations: A History and Archaeology of the Trent Valley Sand and Gravel Industry, CBA Research Report 159) to the excellent Trent Valley Landscapes by David Knight and Andy Howard (Heritage Marketing & Publications Ltd), all funded by the ALSF, may be viewed on their website (www.tvg.org.uk). Since Mike's retirement, David Knight, who is director of research at Nottingham University's Trent & Peak Archaeology unit, has taken over as the convenor of TVG and the organisation continues to prosper in spite of a more challenging funding environment.
David's role in TVG is particularly apposite as he and archaeologist Carol Allen, a former Archaeology editor of Transactions, are leading the development of a new research strategy for the archaeology of the East Midlands. This endeavour, funded by English Heritage from their somewhat reduced archaeology budget, builds on the excellent Research Framework for the East Midlands coordinated by Nick Cooper at Leicester University and available in print as Leicester Archaeological Monograph 13. The strategy, which attempts the nigh on impossible by trying to reach a consensus on the priorities and approaches for future archaeological research in our region, includes widespread professional and public consultation at which your society will be represented to put forward the views of members.
The editors would like to take this opportunity to record their gratitude to Adrian Henstock, on his retirement as History and Managing Editor of Transactions, for all the counsel and encouragement which he has provided during the period in which they have worked with him. As members will know, Adrian has passed on the baton of his responsibilities to new hands, but his connection with the society is by no means at an end. Adrian continues to be a keen reader of papers submitted to Transactions and, as editor of the society's Record Series, we hope to have access to his boundless fund of support and practical wisdom for some time to come. Official 'retirement' has not served to slow Adrian down in the least. A fitting tribute was paid in 2003, to mark the end of his tenure as Principal Archivist of Nottinghamshire County Council, in the volume of essays edited by John Beckett, Nottinghamshire Past (2003). We hope he will find equal satisfaction in looking back over thirty years of Transactions. The tradition he established - of high-quality, original and accessible scholarship in the field of Nottinghamshire history and archaeology - is one we hope to maintain in years to come.