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The CBA's Community Archaeology Resource
Heritage Toolkit: Make a Map

Suitable for all ages!

The idea:

Official published maps record everything but what is missed out is the `locally significant' - the places that you only know about if you are local: working together to create a physical map is a fantastic activity for a community and results in a beautiful hanging that can become a centrepiece and an inspiration.

How to do it:

You can run this as a series of sessions, taking about five to six hours, or as an all day event.

Decide on the area to be mapped. The area needs to make sense to people now, not just historically, so it may be part or all of a village, district, parish, ward or set of streets.
Overlay your map onto an actual map, ideally a copy of an historic one. This shows you where your boundary is in relation to the original and gives you the shape of your Area of Significance (the place you're mapping).

Get hold of a large piece of cloth - a bed sheet is ideal. Hang this up where everyone can see it and you can attach things to it.

Draw out the shape of your area onto your cloth.

Ask people to list the places in that area which are most important to them. For each one, get them to fill in a short paragraph about why. These are called Statements of Significance and there should be one for each place that ends up on the map.

Try to make the reasons for including a place as broad and interesting as possible: not just known and noted historic features but also stories, songs, quirky characters and unusual traditions. For example, the first shop to sell flared trousers in the 1960s; the local Lovers' Lane or Monkey Run; the best skateboard course, the first cinema or dance hall; the birthplace of an inventor; the pitch of a famous busker.

Talk about what gets included and agree on a final list of places. Mark the place names onto the sheet using paint or permanent marker and get people to find or create an image, story, piece of text or collage for each one and attach them directly to the sheet using glue, stitching, staples or whatever works.

Make sure all the Statements of Significance are kept in a file to accompany the Map.

How to use the Map:

The Map provides a wonderful starting point for other activities. For example:

  • Local walks and talks
  • Community history group meetings
  • School events and activities
  • Representing your place to others eg Planning Authorities, local councils, heritage bodies
  • As a decorative object in its own right on display in a community building
  • More research!

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