Urban Archaeology: Session 4 Historical Archives, the Historian's Perspective


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Session delivered by Dr. Adam Chapman on 25/10/12 for Urban Archaeology module. http://urbarch.wordpress.com/

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  • Note that the urban/rural divide is plastic. This OS Map [© Crown Copyright] of 1810 shows that Southampton had, at this date, expanded only a small amount since the seventeenth century- this will be reflected in the scope of records from this date.
  • Early mapping can provide shape and space to manuscript evidence – the street names shown on Speed’s map are medieval and can be compared with the terriers (or land books) of 1454 and 1495.
  • Urban Archaeology: Session 4 Historical Archives, the Historian's Perspective

    1. 1. Historical Archives Part 2:The Historian’s Perspective Adam Chapman
    2. 2. Aims and Objectives• How are archives and their content created?• How do the contents of archives end up there? Who decides?• What sort of material might be expected?• Approaches to documents• Applications in archaeology
    3. 3. The ‘whys’ of archives• ‘Institutional memory’ – in this sense, a medieval cartulary and the minute book of a nineteenth century shipyard perform exactly the same function – though what they can tell us about urban landscapes may be rather different.• Legal or financial expediency or, ‘it might be useful one day’.
    4. 4. The ‘whys’ of archives• Audit – do not underestimate this: a vast amount of the surviving documents of central and local government survive because someone, somewhere thought that others would come and check up on how something was done or how money was spent.• Recording an event or sequence of events – anything from a medieval court roll to a football match report.
    5. 5. The ‘whys’ of archivesAnd finally:• Conscious safeguarding of items of historical significance – preservation and conservation. This has been happening for longer than you might think.
    6. 6. Approaches to Documents• Texts – dealing strictly with the content, the way in which language is deployed the assumptions behind it and the processes which shape authorial choice.• The Document as Object – Material Culture. This approach considers documents within their physical context. How does it appear? Is care taken in its preparation and display? What function does the document perform? How does it signify ownership?• Omission – what does a document not do and why?
    7. 7. Types of Archive:• Public• Private and Personal – correspondence, clubs and societies, family, legal or financial• Corporate – Trade and Industry or even University• Governmental (National and Local)• Church• Community
    8. 8. Archival Material: Medieval
    9. 9. Archival Material: Medieval• Very ‘process-driven’ and probably in Latin• Dominated by Church and State – but this covers an enormous amount of ground• Of particular use, from an archaeological perspective, are building accounts, rentals and inventories – note these refer primarily to buildings and plots• Limited survival of private documents
    10. 10. Archival Material : ‘Modern’ (i.e. post 1500)• Stands a good chance of being in English.• More varied in origin, content and purpose.• Greater survival of private documents.• More pictorial and mapping evidence.• The closer to the present you get, the more there is – a positive and a negative• Not necessarily historic – the HER and similar datasets can be regarded as archives
    11. 11. Following that reference: What does TNA E 101/18/1 actually mean? How can this help?• TNA = The National Archives (formerly the Public Record Office)• E = Records of the Exchequer• E 101 = Kings Remembrancer: Accounts Various (sub-series: records of the army and navy)• 18/1 = The specific document
    12. 12. Recording, Transcription and Note-taking
    13. 13. Recording and Note-keepingPhotography• Pros – Quick, cost-effective and you can enlarge it when you get home.• Cons – copyright, institutional policies, keeping track of data, limitations.• It does not save taking notes. Sorry.• IF IN DOUBT ASK
    14. 14. General points• What information do you want from the document?• Do you need to transcribe it all?• Is this a good use of your time?
    15. 15. • Record what is there and not what you think is there – note alternative spellings for example:• Is ‘Dinfor’ the same as ‘Dinefwr’ or ‘Dynafor’?• Beware different languages in the same document
    16. 16. Applications of Archival Material
    17. 17. Research Archives• Often available online having been assembled as part of research projects• Synthesise archival sources in more accessible forms (potentially, this does not always work)• May well include items not easily or accessibly documented to a lay audience – this is especially true of medieval documents
    18. 18. Footbridge over railway line from Waterloo to the oldTerminus Station and Docks, connecting Marsh Lane (W side) with Chantry Road (E side), City of Southampton.
    19. 19. Historic Mapping: John SpeedSouthampton 1611 – the earliest extant street plan of the city
    20. 20. Reconstructive mapping based on archives and archaeology: Medieval Southampton
    21. 21. Southampton c. 1454 (3D render based on 1454 Terrier and archaeological data)