Rose of the Shires Project
Rockingham Forest Trust∞
The Purpose of the Project
The ‘Rose of the Shires’ project will work with communities, Local Authorities and other partners to identify, record and manage the historic landscapes and environments of Northamptonshire. As well as helping to maintain local character and distinctiveness the project will provide participants with new skills and understanding, develop an increased sense of identity and ownership amongst communities and create links between people and their Local Authorities.
We will work with 30 communities in 6 key areas of the County to create a working model that can be replicated in other areas of Northamptonshire and which has the potential to be adopted across the UK. 5 of the areas we work with will be within the current boundaries of the County whilst the 6th will be within the Unitary Authority of Peterborough; where historically the Soke was part of Northamptonshire.
The historic environment of Northamptonshire is increasingly under pressure from a programme of housing development, industry, road building and mineral extraction. Particularly from the MKSM programme which will lead to an additional 100,000 homes built across the County with all the associated development that accompanies this. These rapid and radical changes will have a major impact upon the landscapes, settlements and the communities that live in them and will affect the local identity and distinctiveness of the areas. Even in the areas that are not directly threatened by major development there will be increased recreational pressure from the rising population, infill housing, industrial development and land use change.
The project is not only about involving communities in learning more about their local historic environment (and creating an online Heritage Resource for the whole of the County) it is also about being able to inform this process of change, managing the landscapes and maintaining the character of these areas for future generations. The project has the support of the 4 Local Councils in Northamptonshire, Northamptonshire County Council and Peterborough City Council. The reports produced by the project will be adopted into the Historic Environment Records of Northamptonshire and Peterborough and used to inform future planning and decision making. The reports will also be available online through the Trust’s Heritage Resource Centre where local communities/Parish Councils will be able to easily access the information.
The work of the project and its high level of community engagement align it well with current English Heritage initiatives, the European Landscape Convention and recent Government policy documents such as the draft Heritage Bill. Many of the priorities identified at last years Historic Environment Summit for Northamptonshire are matched by the activities and outputs of ‘Rose of the Shires’.
Project Activities & Outputs
The project will be using recently created historic landscape research data that has only been developed for Northamptonshire (Arts Humanities Research Council funded) and is not publicly available. It enables reconstruction mapping of medieval & post medieval landscapes alongside the late C19th and modern.
The mapping and further research by Landscape Archaeologists enables communities to become involved in identifying and assessing the historic value of their local landscape, how it evolved over 700 years and the survival/condition of a range of features. An initial presentation & discussion session will be followed by guided ‘Walking Workshops’ around the area. Working groups will then be formed to continue recording the historic landscape, with ongoing support from the archaeologists and project staff.
Accompanying the historic landscape programme will be further built environment work that identifies houses and other structures that are valued by the local communities but are not Grade I/II listed. These will be recorded for inclusion in the final report and also submitted for Local Listing by the Local Authorities.
Additional work with communities will involve recording the local church and surroundings to produce a Statement of Significance and a range of activities that look at their social history.
The results of the work with each community will be written up as a Local Historic Environment Report that will be adopted by Northants County Council or Peterborough City Council into their Historic Environment Records. Each report will have a summary of the development of the historic landscape, assess the condition and survival of features and examine the way in which these combine together to contribute to the distinctiveness of each area. The reports will integrate professional assessment with the views and values of the communities involved. They will also include recommendations and guidance on how the historic landscape could be managed in the future.
• 15 additional communities across Northants to take part in Local Listings work (probably in areas with a development threat or having a Conservation Area review.)
• 18 local heritage activities to be developed and delivered for schools (at locations around the County or at the Trust’s Stanwick Lakes centre)
• Produce website content for the Trust’s online Heritage Resource Centre (which currently has detailed information about the Rockingham Forest area.) The project will provide medieval, post medieval and C19th mapping for the rest of Northamptonshire to create a heritage resource that covers the whole County and makes the research data publicly accessible. Each of the Local Historic Environment Reports produced by the project will also be available on the website.
• Publish a volume with the Northamptonshire Record Society to provide a printed version of the historic mapping produced for the online Resource Centre.
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