During the last year members of the Anglo-Saxon project have spent a lot of time pouring over maps, both modern and old. We discovered that the National Archive Office at Kew (TNA) held the original notebooks and sketch maps made by Ordnance Survey surveyors when they were recording the parish boundaries.
Although they only date from the 19th and early 20th centuries we hoped that they might include some local details, which would throw light on the situation in Saxon and Medieval times.
We therefore arranged to visit the National Archive and invited others to help fill the coach who might have their own research to pursue or want to visit Kew Gardens.
On arrival, most of us needed to complete applications for Reader's Tickets, getting our photographs taken and cards printed out very efficiently while Phoebe Merrick, our chairman, had a cup of coffee in the cafe.
We had already requested some documents in advance, this enabled us to quickly get down to work. We had decided to photograph as many as possible to allow us to read them at our leisure back in Romsey, however, we discovered that not all the TNA cameras were reliable, so we called on the services of Alec Morley and Roger Harris to be our photographers with their own cameras.
While most people tackled the Ordnance Survey papers, Barbara Burbridge spent time looking at Medieval Latin documents for some of the manors in our study area. Pat Boulting and Mary Harris hunted for and found some early documents relating to Chilworth and Michelmersh.
We took a well-earned break for an excellent lunch in the TNA cafe, before returning to look at more documents until we had to meet our coach at 4.30pm.
This proved a very enjoyable and interesting day. We were excited to find comments on archaeological sites and finds in some of the notebooks written by OGS Crawford. He was an Ordnance Survey worker who lived at Nursling and was a pioneer of the use of aerial photography for finding archaeological sites,
We are now busy cataloguing the photographs of maps and documents. It will take us a long time to study them all thoroughly but we have already noticed a few interesting items; On the boundary of Michelmersh parish where we think the Saxon Charter recorded 'the beekeepers gate' is a lane labelled 'Honey Lane' - Is this significant or just a coincidence?
On a more modern note, the Michelmersh notebook contained a 1934 newspaper cutting from the Romsey Advertiser recording the decision of Michelmersh parish council to name the roads in the parish. This rather implies that the road names are relatively new. Unfortunately the names in current use do not all match with the decision of the then parish council. Did people object to some of the names? There is further research to be done.
Written by Mary Harris
Click photos to enlarge them.