Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Tamworth’

On my search for ancient and venerable trees in the Tamworth area I came along this from the endless resource of Charles Ferrers Raymund Palmer´s book on Tamworth. When Charles focused on a building, boy did he focus on it, his writings on the Moathouse throw up all sorts of info as if gone through with a comb. About the trees in the long drive he´s got this to say:

“The moat house is a very large and handsome structure,……………It is approached from Lichfield street through a long avenue of noble lime-trees, of more than a century´s growth.”

The mentioned lime trees are still there and if we go by the tree´s estimated age written by Charles in 1845 that makes the trees more than 275 years old!!

The moathouse with Lime trees on either side

Knowing little about  trees I quickly googled info on Lime trees and found out that they´ve got nothing to do with limes, can indeed be very old, and you can use the flowers to make a tea for medicinal purposes, old flowers apparently having narcotic effects hmmm, interesting. The idea of using the fruits from a 270 year old tree sounds appealing to me, actually the whole idea of drinking something with great age is appealing although not the same check this out about oldest champagne found and tasted.

Anyway to know more on Lime trees known as well as tilia(the genera) take a look at this and this.

a lime tree(tillus) image with details, click to go to the link

I´m in Tamworth so will duly insert some photos of the brooding moathouse expertly framed by the Lime trees, shame I´m not the best photographer in the world, but just maybe, maybe this once.. Watch this space.

Read Full Post »

Adding trees

A number of factors have induced me  to write this new series adding trees, especially old trees to the Timehikes blog(might even get round to adding people at some point!).

Firstly the Government crazy woodland sell off and the campaign to stop it, there´s been loads of really good arguments against it, for example Outlandish Knights blogs entry and Brownhill Bobs view on  it here on the sell off.  I haven´t got much to add, just a paranoid observation from the truncated world of Tamworth Timehikes that  the recent government´s backtracking  got me thinking that this maybe was the half-baked schemes real aim. They didn´t really think that it would work did they without huge opposition  ? Maybe it was to look like the government was ´listening´ to the people on this high-profile case, a sort of smokescreen.  Maybe I´m giving them too much credit..

Then there´s a series of post´s on Brownhills bobs blog, about the Shire oak tree, an ancient emblematic  tree that once stood in the  Stonnal area which exemplies to me  what collaborative history detective work could really do for a place, uncover, enrich with stories and memories.

Also I´ve been wanting to put a tree themed post about this for a long time.  I´m rubbish at identifying trees, get the names mixed up but I recognise trees, especially old trees are very special awe inspiring living things, unique ecological niches . There´s a great citizen science project called the Ancient tree hunt from the The Woodlands Trust, worth taking a look at.

Finally recently saw  this article in the herald about the history of Gungate road formerly known as Old Stony road. In a great bit of detective work  from Paul Barber and the article’s author(can´t find the name in the article)they recognised that a beech tree in an 1829 engraving incredibly survives till today.

This serves as a perfect introduction to ancient trees in the Tamworth area. All credit I stress for the discovery goes to the authors of the Herald article. I´m just adding the pretty pictures.

Taken from Staffordshire past track. the Engraving mentioned from 1828-29 from E.B Hamel, north view of Tamworth from Gungate. The Beech tree is on the left. In true  romantic style the scene has been given a bit of drama by enlarging the church and castle complete with fluttering flag. With some added farmer folk in the forground.

The contemporary 2010 scene, courtesy of the google streetmap car.  The Tall copper beech tree is still there on the left in the garden of Mayfield house, on the corner of croft street.  The tree´s got bigger, while the church has got smaller!

Read Full Post »

Continuing with exploring the souvenirs side to Tamworth Timehikes. This is the latest addition to Tamworth timehikes story.The blog started with those key ingredients listed in the about page with a desire to demonstrate that even a forgotten corner can turn up all sorts of history and be as interesting in it´s own way as any place.

Went on to create some facial haired eye impaired characters called abe and ernst to accompany the explorations as I´m not actually in Tamworth!! and veered off again to create  souvenirs from the narrative of Tamworth Time hikes.

Above are Abe and Ernst at the Tamworth Timehikes stall, things aren´t going too well, so Abe or is it Ernst, (can never make up my mind who is which)have decided to put themselves up for sale.

T-shirts are an ever popular souvenir item so I´ve decided to do some T-shirt mock ups. Actually one as the other one is taken from the Tribute to the  Lichfield Transmitter entry.

Ok here goes, cue drum roll music….deder!!!

The Tamworth Timehikes t-shirts.

click to enlarge

As I mentioned before the T-shirt on the left was featured before. I love the graph putting the transmitter shoulder to shoulder with Paris, New York!! It´s got the added advantage that the Lichfield transmitter tower can be seen for miles around so it could be a souvenir t-shirt for Lichfield, Walsall, the list goes on…

The one on the right is a profile of Tamworth´s  skyline in a pulse graph style. This one is yearning for a title, something like Wake up Tamworth! but can´t decide. Any title contributions will be greatly appreciated and all profits will be shared; )

Licencia de Creative Commons

Read Full Post »

As in the first part of a bundle of map links of forgiveness my posts are lagging far behind. There´s a lot of changes at the moment in the physical world which I´m not going into, as this blog is strictly obsessed with ´things´ of the past in the  the Tamworth area.

I´m convinced that exploring the landscape around you is a good thing all round. So to help out in this quest to explore your surroundings here are a few more links and search tools(map based tools in above mentioned post)  to use all over the country that have been really useful in this blog. All without leaving the confines of the computer screen. Even better if you accompany with exploring, asking around, research  in physical world!

Firstly there´s google books. A lot of older books sometimes dating back to the 18th, 19th centuries are published online. These older books many times are  ambitious attempts  by gentleman scholars to cover all aspects of the places, later on they become more and more specialised until today when it´s very difficult to get a book covering everything on a place. The information is too fragmented and anyway there´s too much out there.  Apart from google books which being the monster it is has the largest collections there´s www.archive.org and Project Gutenberg for example. If you´re looking for info on a place on google books the more obscure the info the better, type it into the search bar on google books and you´ll be surprised.

Hang on….This isn´t a bundle of tools it´s a ramble so back to basics

BUNDLE OF SEARCH TOOLS

————————————————————————————————————————————————–

British history online is a well established establishment resource, it´s got a lot of the ambitious and extensive Victoria County History collections online. Archaeology data service have got loads of digitalized archaeology data online. For example unpublished fieldwork reports(known as grey literature) Or the ADS special collections.  Used quite a lot in the blog are the complete volumes from 1 to 50 of the society for medieval archaeology. On the Archi search database you can find 1000´s of sites all round the UK and is continually being added to. Full access is around 24 pounds subscription annually. Apart from these more instititional resources there´s a great and mushrooming number of all number of sites, forums, organisations on all types of remains of the remains and ways of enjoying it. Abandoned site exploration forums(known as urbex) like derelict.co.uk are extremely active, and a lot of people involved accompany their passion with great photography for example sleepy cities. Their´s more specific sites on particular type of past remains   for example UKMillsghost signs,(handpainted wall signs) milestone  society, and  forgotten relics on remains of Britain´s industrial past. Could also be localised heritage like the very active Midlands heritage forum.

———————————————————————————————————————————————

and not forgetting wikipedia;

Read Full Post »

Found this very Victorian account of Tamworth on googlebooks called Town and Castle, by Charles Ferrers, from 1845(Click on the title to follow the link) It has a wealth of detail in where it mixes detailed history, personal accounts of discovery, local hearsay and Victorian morals/judgement. For example just love the bit in the extract below where he reprimands the builder who ´had neither the curiosity were it led to, or the courtesy to inform any person who would have explored it

You can just sense his disappointment! The extract is about the discovery of evidence for that ancient elusive subterranean passage linking the castle and church(see earlier post). That builder made sure he maintained and added to the mystery until now!

The crypt

Mr Ferrers in Town and Castle goes on to state that it´s believed that this passageway communicated with the church through the east end of the crypt. The 14th century crypt beneath the church of St Editha´s still exists but first to Ferrers account of the crypt from where the suitably gloomy sketch of the crypt is taken from.

I love the account of the crypt, see it here. It´s full of exhaustive detail with added  mock victorian gothic and romantic era atmosphere. Just read this extract  from the account

Lost to the living -surrounded by the relics of the countless dead, the horrors of whose prison-house were feebly revealed by the dim light of a solitary candle,-listening to the distant and almost stifled sound of a muffled bell – for there was a funeral in the church above- we seem to have intruded into the abode of the king of terrors

This is the same place that until recently would have rang with the sound of ´would you like more milk with that dear´ Ferrers darkly vivid account was aided by the fact as the sketch demonstrates it was receptacle of the all the bones disinterred by digging new graves in the churchyard, a sort of charnel house. By the account it sounds like the crypt was piled high with bones, and his account of removing the stacked bones to look for the mysterious subterranean passageway gives you an idea of the scale of the state of the place.

In an earlier post about tales from Hopwas. It´s mentioned in Dyotts diary that the murder victim found in the early 19th century in Hopwas quarry  was laid to rest in this same place, what a place!

As you can see from the photo taken over this summer the crypt has recently been used as a cafeteria with no bones in sight! Last year I entered the cafeteria with my girlfriend and were treated with curiosity and kindness by the staff . I remember thinking this is an amazing place for a cafeteria. My mind started whirling with the possibilities, dub nights, music lovers bar, projections on the 14th century walls, and then I came back to earth and remembered we´re in Tamworth and it´s below a working church but just if….

When the above photo was taken it had closed, and might stay as a relic of late 20th century market town cafeteria life. It closed for…wait for it…health and safety reasons to do with the steps leading down. They are perhaps the easiest steps to walk down I´ve ever seen, and without encasing the place with rubber can´t see how you could make it safer.

Abe and Ernst braving the steps to the crypt

Anyway there was no problem with us going down to have a look and the crypt is definitley worth a look! It´s a very well-preserved 14th century rib vaulted crypt built from rag stone, so typical of the few medieval structures in the area.  It´s a candidate with it´s age, past use, and gothic beauty as the best underground space in the Tamworth timehikes area, although true it´s the only one I´ve seen and contenders are welcome.

What gives it the edge though is a large well conserved 14th century painted inscription on one of the walls. As you can see from the photo below a 20th century exclamation mark has been added in the form of I think a serviette holder!

My latin is well non-existent so I left it´s translation alone until a few days ago where the power of the internet for macro-local discoveries was fully demonstrated. Town and Castle online contains a sketch of the painting with a full translation. Thankyou Charles Ferrers. Here´s the sketch and translation below.

O lord of wealth(and power)

Thou shalt not live for evermore;

Do well whilst life thou hast

If thou would´st live when death is past

Mercy Jesus Christ

Merry Christmas and  happy New Year(I added this bit)

Read Full Post »

While googling info for the underground Tamworth timehikes series , came across this very Lovecraftesque information about a desolute field somewhere in Staffordshire  It just needs some ´race of half humans´ and Clhutlhu overtones and that’s it. It´s taken  from a history of Staffordshire By Dr Plot written in the late 18th century, here´s the excerpt below:

A laborer who was in a desolate field digging a trench came upon a large iron plate that lay beneath the dirt. The hatch was described as being large and oval with an iron ring mounted upon it. This entrance according to those that investigated lead to a large selection of tunnels, the field in located in a valley that is surrounded at both sides with trees.

Great introduction for any budding novelists out there.


Glascote Reservoir

Glascote reservoir 1 is located next to the 1979 reservoir in  Glascote in Tamworth. The post is about the first one as there exists  the possibility that it’s a contender for the finest underground space in Tamworth.

The covered reservoir shown in the 1899 Ordnance map taken from Staffordshire Past track

It was built at the high point of Victorian engineering or ´overengineering´ where many of the public works, especially sanitary and drainage systems were spectacular constructions that together with the description from History of South Staffordshire Waterworks could mean that Glascote reservoir has the potential to be an impressive underground Victorian remnant. Below is the excerpt from the book concerning the reservoir

The original Glascote Reservoir, built in 1880, held sufficient water for one and a half days supply. Constructed entirely in brickwork and totally enclosed, the roof consisted of semicircular brick arches springing from arched traverse walls, stiffened by subsidiary flat arches spaced at 13 feet one inch centres. Dimensions of the receptacle are 32.0m. x 31.7m x 4.78m deep. Top water level is 364.6 A.O.D. Built in a mining area, close to the North Warwickshire Colliery, for some years cracks had been observed in the roof and walls of thestructure which were gradually spreading, subsequently the reservoir was taken out ofcommission until remedial work was carried out.

Built entirely of brickwork with semicircular brick arches it could be similar to the reservoirs at Papplewick Pumping station built 1882-1882  at same time. Papplewick is the finest Victorian pumping station in the UK according to their website. Papplewick has been turned into a successful tourist centre. This photo below  is taken from their website, it could give an idea to what might  lie covered at Glascote:

BrownhillBob has a great report of his explorations(with photos) in the archives and on the ground  which do justice to the  now demolished Shire Oak Reservoir here, and is in fact where I got the invaluable link to the History of South Staffordshire waterworks.

Read Full Post »

Having being inspired by this inspiring project in Nottingham, the Nottingham cave survey. A great archaeological project that demonstrates to me be what investigating the past should be all about.  It hasn´t hidden the investigation behind a curtain of academic drabness, they know it´s fun, the bastards, just look at those bikes! There´s something of the kid in all of this looking at past mysteries looking beyond the normal street level everydayness in all of this. Nothing illustrates this better than whats beneath our feet. Forgotten tunnels, underground spaces  awake all sorts of stories etc within us and is seen in all sorts of underground stories for example in the brilliantly captivating  Rats in the Walls by J.P. Lovecraft.

Tamworth obviously doesn´t have the underground complexity of cities such as Nottingham(unique sandstone caves), Birmingham never mind cities such as New York. New York has even got a whole sub-genre dedicated to its underground world populated with its own set of characters from Mole people  to sewer alligators.  Incidentally great article on BLDG´S blog on rat catching and underground world of New York.

Ley lines

Can you see the entrance below Tamworth Castle into a secret world of ancient sects? I´m not telling

Tamworth and the Timehikes area has a much a more manageable underground world but not without its own mysteries. I remember as a kid messing around on the castle mount which then had the advantage for kids messing about of being hidden by trees. We were intrigued by the doorway below the castle and remember hearing stories being recounted about how it was the start of a tunnel which connected the castle with St Editha´s church. It was locked by barred gate and peering in I remember seeing the passageway filled  with rubble which with my imagination I´m sure I remember complete with  bones and skulls sticking out. How the hell I remember this I don´t know! One of the more intrepid explorer friends even proposed trying to get in and exploring further,  If my memory serves me right it´s the same guy who I was  saddened to read over Summer was involved in the operation Nemesis drug raids. Cruel world.

This Goonies flavoured childhood memory(incidentally goonies adventures have secret tunnels too!) introduced this legend of a tunnel between St Editha´s and the castle. When the legend came about I don´t know and what substance it has I don´t know either. The story of a secret tunnel though is by no means isolated and in fact forms part of the denominated folklore element  Leys tunnels.I´ve only seen this term on wikipedia but I think it´s an appropiate term for all those stories of secret and lost tunnels.  It seems most towns in the United Kingdoms  and overseas  have their version, Nottingham cave survey has actually confirmed it´s own legendary tunnel, see this link.

Going back to those childhood memories I remember that the ruined gateways leading into the castlegrounds presented a couple of hidden away doorways which I connected with the doorway on the mount. Apart from this distant childhood hypothesis I have this to go on from John Harpers page, which I´ve copied and pasted below:

As the demolition men tore down these 18th century buildings, they came across an old tunnel heading out under George Street from beneath one of the shops.  Some suspected that it may have been a long-lost medieval passageway leading from the castle to St. Editha’s Parish Church.  Local people have long believed the tunnel to exist, but as yet, there is no historical or architectural proof.  The George Street tunnel was probably just a cellar dug out to provide extra storage space.  But, as they developers were anxious to press on without archaeologists poking their noses in, the tunnel was simply blocked up with little or no investigation.

So there really is local hearsay about a long-lost tunnel! fascinating. Whatever it´s truth the secret tunnel serves  this blog as a sort of   doorway to that mysterious  captivating slightly creepy underground world  of abandoned cellars, sewers, sealed spaces that could lie below the area. Maybe it could even explain the rat problem in the castlegrounds!

Tamworth´s long lost medieval tunnel according to me.

Now onto the  first of a series on the  underground world of Tamworth.

The cellars of the Old Stone Cross

The old Stone Cross pub on Church Street, Tamworth has got a long history, which includes very old cellars. The heritage pubs of Tamworth initiative has a picture of the cellars  here and heaps of info on the story of the pub,including the Rolling Stones! This post is strictly focused on the underground though. The cellars according the HER entry date back amazingly to the early 16th century.The listed building entry even mentions Tudor Rose bosses on the vaulting. The place looks like it’s a candidate for the underground gem of Tamworth. Are there any other cellars with histories below old pubs of Tamworth?

Abe and Ernst got a part time job in the Old Stone Cross to take a better look at the old cellars, all for the cause.

This is the first and most tangible entry in a series Abe and Ernst explorations of the possibilities of underground Tamworth!

Read Full Post »

Ok back in business and straight into the heart of the metropolis of Tamworth, or at least round the edges of the centre to have a look at the Anglo-Saxon to medieval defences that once surrounded Tamworth.

Witness the Fitness, Abe and Ernst are back in training

This post is riding the wave of Anglo-Saxon popularity of which Tamworth of course is in the premier  in this field. The defences compared to other subjects in Timehikes have had  considerable time and research, internet space dedicated to them so below I´m going to review the work done by archaeologists, historians, witnesses, map makers before going on to suggest a few ways of promoting the elusive defences.

Below I´ve outlined the course of the defences in green

This was a pointless exercise  as Ordnance survey have done it already, below

The defences, known variably as King´s ditch, Offa´s dyke and Walferlong are connected with the very origins of the name Tamworth, they add the worth bit in the name, meaning enclosure, Tamworth = enclosure by the river tame( that´s one translation). That the defences are very ancient  is testified by evidence of even older defences going back to at least the 8th century but more of that later.

The defences consisting of a broad ditch and bank are no longer visible, at least without scraping away the dirt. Back in the 19th century though they formed a very visible reminder of Tamworth´s ancient past.  Below is a description from Victoria County History Vol 1, 1904:

This is an excellent collection of previous accounts. From 350 years ago when the ditch was clearly visible on the 3 sides to descriptions in 1884 of the north-west corner of the defence line.

The story of the defences is one of gradual to quick disappearance to partial  rediscovery by archaeologists.  Falling out of use between the reigns of Richard II and Henry IV, they were still very present as the ´kings ditch´ in the 1600´s( see above, Dugdales account) although filled up in places.  In the 1839 map below, they are  marked on the eastern side of the town as King´s Ditch, so they were at least still present on the eastern and western sides.

1839 map with kings ditch marked on it

The above ( Victoria county) accounts from 1884 and the map below from 1885 give a privileged snapshot of the state of the defences in that time. The eastern side had disappeared and the western portion was at it´s most prominent in the north-western corner. Again quoting Victoria county history it mainly consisted of an ´earth tump´. In the 1884 map below the rounded corner is prominently marked. It runs alongside the very saxon sounding Walferlong, another name for the defences(now the less epic sounding Orchard Street)

1885 ordnance map

At some point between the 1886-1900 the visible North-western portion was built on and the northwestern course was followed roughly by terraced housing. In the 1901 ordnance map they are marked as ´remains of´ in the vicinity of the aforementioned terraced houses and along Hospital Street. ´Remains of´  could be inferred as that there was still evidence of the Defence line at the turn of the 20th century.

1901 ordnance map

At some point  before 1938 they become ´site of´ , which could be taken as that there were no longer remains and have become a ´memory´ commemorated by the nearby Offa street.

1938 ordnance map

Parallel to it´s dissappearance and it´s conversion to memory and then history, archaeologists appear in the scene in the 1960´s-1980´s. A  number of small excavations are carried out in response to building work. Below I´ll outline some of their discoveries.

excavations:

This is a bit of mish mash of reports and is quite difficult to outline so sorry to misquote but it gives an idea of the conclusions of the excavations.Many of the excavations were carried out by Gould in the 60´s and 70´s, his excavations on brewery lane revealed possible different phases. There´s the hypothesis that the defences correspond to King Aethelfaed´s action in 913 written in the Market charter´He went with all the Mercians to Tamworth and built the burgh there in the early summer´. The construction of fortified burhs during this period marks an important transition in the development of towns, Tamworth being a significant example.   The ditch with a turf built rampart , with frontal timber revetments and wooden strapping found at the brewery lane site was ascribed to this Aethelfaed period. Gould also found evidence though of earlier pre-Aethelfaed sequences. It´s described as a ´palisaded trench´.  It seems quite certain that there was a pre late saxon defence and there´s speculation that it originated in the royal defences of the royal site of Tamworth in the mid-8th century mentioned in the Market charters.

Speculated cross-section of the defences from mid-anglo saxon period, pre-Aethelfaed.(copied and pasted from Basset,S, Divide and rule,the military infrastructure of eighth and ninth century Mercia)

On the other side of the sequence there´s evidence of continued use of the defences after 913 up until the 13th centuries. The defences were refurbished and stone walls were placed in front of the ramparts as noted in the excavations on Albert Road and rubble found in ditch of Brewery lane. The collapsed walls were probably used in fact to fill in the ditches. (all taken from  reviews of the excavations from Bassett, S, Divide and Rule, The military infrastructure of eighth and ninth century Mercia and info from online archaeology reports)

map with excavations and original medieval streets, again the above map is again copied and pasted  from Bassett, S, Divide and Rule, The military infrastructure of eighth and ninth century Mercia. thankyou!

I remember (although I maybe completely wrong)that they excavated a wall in the excavation on Hospital street in response to the reforming of the old hospital and conversion into houses, with surrounding houses I remember it was back in the 90´s. I dimly remember that they found remains of a wall and ditch and that it was displayed in one of the reformed buildings with an explanation of the remains. I don´t know where I remember it from and  maybe it´s wishful thinking but as far as I know that´s no longer the case and there´s no explanation of the place currently. They are private residences so difficult to find out. Anyway it would have been a great idea if it did exist outside my head!  Why don´t they integrate the ditch and bank found in one of the excavations into the current townscape.With a small investment it would give back to some extent the King´s ditch back to the town and great introduction to the origins of the town. In Valencia where I live the integrating of archaeological remains into modern townscapes is seen everywhere. From an islamic wall in the middle of a museum gallery, a bakery to part of the Roman town  seen  below a glass plaza. Even if you are not interested in a ´bunch of walls,´  the results look great, as you might see from the picture below

The Almoina, Valencia, a glass covered square showing the Roman excavated ruins below. This is perhaps an overly expensive example of what could be done

Promoting the defences

A commemorative heritage gastronomic trail or pub crawl.

How about a pub crawl along the course of the ancient defences  . This can be taken in a more leisurely or decadent way depending on your style. This could integrate Tamworth heritage pub initiative and the Mercian trail promoted by the local council.

Ok here goes, start at the eastern side of the ditch, at the Weatherspoons. It´s best to start here as a: it´s very cheap and b: you miss the rush of hundreds of people later on. Take your time here as there awaits a long walk along the eastern course to the next watering hole, the Albert Inn. This is not right on the course of the defence but it´s near enough. This is an old-school boozer as are most on the itinerary, or at least it was, haven´t been there for years. You may encounter in some of the pubs, real Anglo Saxons descendents, keep a look out, you´ll know when you see one.  From here continue west along Albert street until you get to the crossroads at Gungate. Here you will face a dilemma, if you´re feeling peckish there´s a thai restaurant on the corner or you can carry on to the Globe Hotel, a fine example of a  Victorian pub palace  as described in Tamworth Heritagepubs. From here you enter a more residential area empty of pubs. Go along Hospital street, stop at the corner shop with Orchard Street and while you´re buying some maltesers imagine you´re  standing on the corner of the renowned King´s ditch. Continue along Orchard street, go past the St Johns club and the borough council buildings onto the White Lion the penultimate and well deserved resting place. From here a short step to the last pub, right next to an excavation of the ditch, called the Three Tuns. … That´s it the King´s Ditch pub crawl!

The pub´s named and placed, click to enlarge

A collective search for the ancient defences

This is a call out in Timeteam or maybe big dig style for anyone living on the course of the defences to have a look around, you never know there just might be a telling dip in the garden, a cellar with adjoining wall,  anyway would be amazing to hear any stories. Also memories of the remains would also be great to hear. Below is a map with the houses and adjoining back yards where there might be evidence. I think the corner of Hospital and Orchard street is the most promising place for some sort of evidence, maybe a rise in the garden.

The residences and church( below St Johns Catholic church, probable basement) highlighted on the defence line where maybe, just maybe there is evidence of the ancient defences

I´m really enthusiastic about this idea so I´m  going to risk the ridiculous and am going to try and post a call out on the Tamworth Blog!

Abe and Ernst getting into the spirit of the search for the ancient defences

This post is far too long and has got out of hand!

Read Full Post »

My posts are pretty non-existent at the moment, even slower than usual. I´m a bit overwhelmed at the moment hope to get back to more Abe and Ernst adventures and musings in the macro-macro world of tamworth timehikes soon. Meanwhile I´ll leave this post as a bundle of links about online maps and tools used in Tamworth Timehikes that can be used equally in other places in UK for having a deeper look at the landscape´s history.

Abe and Ernst taking time out from Timehikes

Some possible future and past routes around the area

Well first you´ve got online maps.co.uk. They´ve recently updated their site and have now got maps of the UK from around 1888 to the 1970´s including Soviet cold war maps! It´s got a nice map based search interface too. Staffordshire Past track has got a search map section with Yates 1775 Staffordshire map on scale 2(pretty much the earliest close-up survey of Staffordshire) On scale 1 you´ve got the 1899-1903 ordnance map on view. On vision of Britain through time website you´ve got the Ordnance Survey first Series from the 1830´s. An extremely valuable resource is the British Library´s effort to upload the 1780-1840 one inch to a mile ordnance drawings. They are  beautiful maps and extremely useful in Tamworth Timehikes. I first came across the 1815 map from a link from the Building history map links section. It’s a pretty exhaustive list of map sources and worth taking a look at. Historical aerial photography for free is sparse on the internet at least for England, the situations looks different for Scotland. I think it has something to do with the Old aerialphotogaphy site having the rights! What we do have though is of course Googlearth satellite imagery. One of the great things about Googlearth is that you can toggle the dates on the images, in the clock button at the top. So you can get different images in Tamworth´s case back to far away days of the late 90´s. This is really useful for checking out cropmarks etc. Bill on comments recently pointed out Flashearth, Microsofts satellite imagery platform. The images seem to have been taken at just or almost the right time of year for spotting historical cropmarks, soilmarks, etc, really useful. Geomatics group have the LIDAR images up on the web , LIDAR is amazing see through trees imaging technology that´s revolutioning  Landscape archaeology.  Apart from this, different societies, initiatives, blogs have uploaded old maps, tithe maps, photography depending on the area. So go ahead and do some intrepid exploring from the comfort of your chair. Who knows the lost city of Z could be right next to the local Tescos.

Read Full Post »

This post is taking as a starting point a great chapter in the even greater Prairyerth book, from which this blog takes so much inspiration. The chapter is about names and as this is about Tamworth, well it´s about the name Tamworth.  the chapter quotes ‘Sockless’ Simpson(what a name)

I wouldn´t give a tinker´s durn for a man who can´t spell a word more than one way

Going along with the quote, below are 22 different ways of spelling Tamworth throughout history ordered chronologically( A lot of info is from this CBA report).

Tomtun(Late 7th century, Ethelred) 

 

Tamouurdie(Offa, 781 AD) 

 

Tamouuorthige(Offa, 781 AD) 

 

Tomepordige(Cenwulf, 799) 

 

Tomepordig(Cenwulf, 808) 

 

Tomepordie(Beorhwulf, 814) 

 

Tomanpordie(Beorhwulf, 840) 

 

Tamworthie(Offa)
Tomeuuordig(Beorhwulf, 845) 

 

Tomepeording (Beorhwulf, 849) 

 

Tompeordin(Berghred, 855) 

 

Tomanpordigne(Berghred, 855) 

 

Tameweorthige(925)saxon chronicles Tamwurde(941)
Tamwurthe(941) Tamewaert
Tomeuuorthie 

 

Tamanweorthe
Tamuuorde(Domesday book) Tamworde(Domesday book)
Tameworth(13th century) Tamworth(Shakespeare, Richard III,16th century)

In a way you could read Tamworth´s history through its changing names. It´s as if in the 7th and 8th glory centuries   it was changing names frantically as if trying on different crowns or trying to fit a name to fit its status as Mercia´s  capital. This gave way though to resignation in the 9th,10th centuries when  it settled for the more unprepossessing tamwurde,tamwurthes…… It was a one way route and there was no turning back. In the middle ages it settled and resigned itself to Tamworth, a relatively unchanging backwater, consecrated even by Shakespeare and so remains until today.

It’s interesting to think about whats in a name, its touched upon again  in the aforementioned Prairyerth chapter. Does the name influence the place? Does the place fill out and become the name? Does it effect are perception of the place? It´s an interesting thought…

Lichfield and Tamworth

The name Tamworth has a functional origin as in so many Anglo saxon names, Enclosure by the river Tame, Lichfield´s name has more obscure origins and may translate as  the slightly more metaphysical field of the dead or even  have Roman pedigree. That’s the names sorted out but what about the sounds of the words that’s where the real influence lies. The word Tamworth is a broad horizontal, expansive word when pronounced, the same as the town itself! The town is largely  flat, horizontal  and spreads out over considerable distance, its linguistic destiny being fulfilled by  expansion in the 60´s. Now look at the word Lichfield, it’s a more vertical word, it’s not as broad sounding and dare I say it a more posh sound. The town itself also fills out this linguistic destiny, it´s compact and clings to its souring vertical cathedral.

My point  illustrated below:

Lichfield profile, side by side with the pronunciation of Lichfield

Tamworth profile with the  pronunciation of  Tamworth

Abe and Ernst checking out Tamworth´s many names in the library

Ernst is more Lichfield? (vertical,etc)

Abe is more Tamworth?(Horizontal,etc)

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.