Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Exhibition on Thomas Hardy's Wessex opens in January in Salisbury Museum

By personally selecting a small number of key pieces from their huge bodies of work, these artists give a unique glimpse into their own reactions to their art.  They are showing what they consider to be their most revealing and emotional responses to a landscape they have got to know intimately, both through Hardy and through their own experience of it.

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

See the AONB exhibition on the Medieval Chase this Saturday in Tisbury

This Saturday, 3rd December, the AONB team will be taking part in Tis The Season 3pm to 7pm on Tisbury High Street. The event will feature the normal festive cheer such as carol singers and santas grotto. The AONB team will also be attendance with our trailer featuring an exhibition on the Medieval Chase and a photographic exhibition in the Hinton Hall celebrating our 30th Anniversary.

Hope to see you there


Dororthy Treasure of the Wiltshire Buildings Record describes a little historic cottage in Ansty on the WSHC Blog

The cottage
This month the Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre blog describes historial research into a charming cottage in the Village of Ansty, Wiltshire.

Shaftesbury Historical Society Lecture 030112 The Early History of Norrington Manor

The Early History of Norrington Manor by Betty Trehair

Tuesday 3rd January 2012

Lecture organised by the Shaftesbury & District Historical Society
Venue: Anna McDowell Garden Room, Gold Hill Museum, Shaftesbury
Time: 2.30pm
Tickets: £2.50. Shaftesbury & District Historical Society members free.
Further Information: Tel: 01747 852157 or email
Gold Hill Museum

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Shaftesbury Historical Society Lecture 061211 North Dorset Mills

Lecture on North Dorset Mills by Peter Stanier

Tuesday 6th December 2011Gold Hill Museum

Lecture organised by the Shaftesbury & District Historical Society
Venue: Anna McDowell Garden Room, Gold Hill Museum, Shaftesbury
Time: 2.30pm
Tickets: £2.50. Shaftesbury & District Historical Society members free.
Further Information: Tel: 01747 852157 or email

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

The historic garden at Stourhead is famous for its autumn colour but there is plenty going on at Christmas too - so why not check it out

Stourhead is a magical at Stourhead, an eminent example of a landscape created by amateurs, its success due in part to the masterly siting of buildings round the lake, visible singularly or in combination from different points along the circuit walks. The grounds of Stourhead are second only to Stowe in completeness and extent of picturesque layout and furnishings. The garden was created from 1741 onwards, principally by Henry Hoare II and his grandson Sir Richard Colt Hoare

Christmas events include Beauty and the Beast presented by Joe Gladwin's Paperplays Puppet Theatre  with settings inspired by Stourhead Gardens this promises to be a magical experience ... in miniature! 4th December 2011. More Information: Stourhead Estate Office, 01747 841152,

Find out more about the latest news from the gardens by visiting the Stourhead Blog or the National Trust webpage

Find out more about historic parks and gardens in the AONB by visiting the Historic Landscape Blog

Monday, 21 November 2011

Art Exhibition at Devizes Museum - The Past is Another Country

Winter Exhibition at the Devizes Museum

WINTER EXHIBITION:  The Past is Another Country: an Exhibition by the Elementals Art Group

The Past is Another Country: an Exhibition by the Elementals Art Group
Artwork inspired by the pre-history of Wiltshire.
The Elementals art group brings together the ideas and inspirations of six different artists under a central theme - Jenny Ford, Jan Knight, Julia Leyden, Christine Shorney, Josephine Sumner, plus guest artist Charlotte Sainsbury. Julia Leyden particularly has been inspired by the collections at the Wiltshire Heritage Museum. The project has been as much about the process of an idea, as the finished works of art.

The group studied archival maps and diagrams, artefacts in museums and photographic aerial views of the landscape - and walked and looked, and looked and walked! Rather than recreating the past they have distilled their own personal and emotional responses to the creations of the Neolithic and Bronze Age peoples of Wessex. Inevitably this involved straying outside Wiltshire to look at and compare sites and artefacts from other places.

Each artist has an individual ‘take’ on the project and this is reflected in the finished works themselves; which includes paintings, printmaking and mixed media, plus a twelve verse illustrated poem in book form and as a wall hanging.
Exhibition will be on show in the Museum's Art Gallery from 5 November 2011 to 2 January 2012 at 41 Long Street, Devizes, Wiltshire. SN10 1NS

Saturday, 19 November 2011

Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre Event Discover Wiltshires 20th Century Writers 01.12.11

Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre

Thursday 1st December 2011 - 20th Century Wiltshire Writers

Take a look at the county through the eyes of well known writers of poetry and prose and discover their associations with Wiltshire. Part 2 of Wiltshire Writers and Literary Figures. Limited to 30 people.

All talks begin at 2.15 pm. Admission £3.50 (concessions £2.50).  Spaces are limited so please buy your ticket in advance. Telephone 01249 705500 or visit our Help Desk at the History Centre.

Friday, 18 November 2011

BBC Countryfile features the Cranborne Chase and West WIltshie Downs this Sunday 20th at 6.25

Countryfile image



BBC Countryfile has undertaken some filming in the Cranborne Chase and West Wiltshire Downs AONB for their next programme this Sunday, 20th November, at 6.25pm.

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Lecture in Blandford on the 7th Dec on the Durotriges

Dr Martin Papworth the archaeologist with the National Trust will be speaking on the Durotriges and their place in Dorset at 7.00pm at the United Reformed Church Hall, Blandford

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Tisbury Hoard goes on display at Salisbury and South Wiltshire Museum

Adrian Green, Curator of the Salisbury and South Wiltshire Museum describes the exciting new hoard on the museum website:

"An exciting new Bronze Age hoard discovered in west Wiltshire has just gone on display at Salisbury Museum. It was found a month ago in a field near Tisbury by a metal detectorist. He reported the first object, a spearhead, to the Wiltshire Finds Liaison Officer. A team of archaeologists then excavated the remaining objects and recorded how they lay in the ground.

The hoard of over 100 copper alloy objects is over 2,700 years old and dates to the late Bronze Age and early Iron Age. It consists of tools - axe heads, chisels, sickles, gouges, and weapons - spearheads, daggers, knives, swords and scabbard fittings. It is the most important hoard to have been found in Wiltshire since the discovery of the Salisbury Hoard in the 1980s.

It is very unusual for a hoard of this significance to be on display in a regional museum before it has been assessed by the experts at the British Museum. The hoard will only be on display until Saturday 26 November – it will then go to the British Museum for assessment and the local coroner will need to hold an inquest to determine whether it is Treasure Trove.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Following on from the blue plaque - explore Lancelot Capability Brown and the Cranborne Chase AONB

Lancelot Capability Brown has been honored with a Blue Plaque - find out about his contribution to the landscape of the AONB

Lancelot Capability Brown is to be commemorated with an English Heritage blue plaque at Wilderness House, Hampton Court Palace, his home from 1764 – when he was appointed Chief Gardener at the palace – until his death in 1783. The plaque will be unveiled on Wednesday 9 November at 11am.Capability Brown was the leading landscape gardener of his age and his legacy can be seen today in many parks and gardens across the country.

He is credited with designing over 120 landscapes and demonstrated a flair for creating idyllic, pastoral scenes that complemented some of England’s grandest country houses.

In the Cranborne Chase and West Wiltshire Downs AONB he was the original designer of the mid 18th century extensive parkland surrounding Longleat and advised on plans to alter the park at Wardour in 1754.

Monday, 14 November 2011

Explore Vernditch Chase for autumn colour and spectacular archaeology

I had a wonderful walk yesterday across the open access land on Vernditch Chase

Ackling Dyke Roman Road, Vernditch Chase

It is a great place to see archaeology including two Long Barrows, Grim's Ditch, panoramic views of the Bokerly Dyke and the earthwork aga of the Ackling Dyke Roman Road.

You can explore all of these sites easily from the main Martin Down Nature Reserve car park or alternatively park by the Ox Drove to the north for a longer 4 mile circuit.

Ackling Dyke Roman Road, Vernditch Chase (Jim Champion) / CC BY-SA 2.0

Sunday, 13 November 2011

English Heritage guides offer info on heritage assets that are important to AONB landscape

English Heritage has produced a suite of 40 Introductions to Heritage Assets which offer more detailed overviews of different categories of archaeological asset. This includes Assets particularly relevant to the AONB such as Banjo Enclosures.

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Delve into the history of Clarendon Park with lecture at Salisbury & South Wiltshire museum

If you go down to the woods today......Clarendon Park and Forest 1200-1650

Venue: Lecture Hall / Salisbury & South Wiltshire Museum
Category: Lectures
Date: 16 Nov 2011
Time: 18:30
Description: Wednesday 16 November 2011. A  talk by Dr Amanda Richardson.

The talk is the second in our series on this very important Royal Palace and Hunting Ground which is right on our doorstep. Dr Richardson is a Senior Lecturer in Medieval and Early Modern History at Southampton University and this promises to be a fascinating insight into part of our local countryside.

Drinks at 6.30 pm,  lecture at 7.00 pm.

Friday, 11 November 2011

Find out about the art of traditonal Swill Basket Making in this new short clip

The Cranborne Chase and West Wiltshire Downs AONB is undertaking oral histories of coppice wood workers.

As an accompaniment to this project we asked Barbara Gibson of Spoken Histories to interview traditionally wood workers at the Cranborne Chase Woodfair 2011.

In this first video learn about the historic craft of Swill Basket Making from Owen Jones.

Visit for more information

Shaftesbury Abbey Annual Lecture 16112011 Stonehenge by Julian Richards

Shaftesbury Abbey Annual LectureStonehenge: Investigation and Inspiration by Julian Richards

Wednesday 16th November 20115000 years ago, which, despite centuries of excavation and speculation, has kept some of its secrets. But recent excavations have provided the clues that may enable us, for the first time, to answer questions like when was it built, how and perhaps the greatest puzzle - why? 
But Stonehenge is also an internationally recognised icon, its enduring stones providing inspiration to artists like Turner and Constable, to potters, musicians and writers. So this lecture will also celebrate the role that Stonehenge has played in the arts over the centuries, examining the sometimes weird and wonderful ways in which its image has been celebrated.’ Julian Richards

This year’s speaker will be the nationally renowned archaeologist Julian Richards.  He will give an illustrated talk on ‘Stonehenge: Investigation & Inspiration’, with some fascinating new information about the mysterious site and also insight into the art and literature that Stonehenge has inspired over the centuries.

'Stonehenge is our greatest prehistoric temple, a stupendous structure, built between 4000 and

Venue: Shaftesbury Arts Centre, Bell Street, Shaftesbury
Time: 7.30pm. Pre-lecture drinks in the Phoenix Room from 6.30pm
Tickets: SAC Box Office 01747 854321 £8.00 (£7.00 for FoSA and S&DHS)
Further Information: Shaftesbury Abbey 01747 852910 or email
Shaftesbury Abbey

Find out if an asset in the AONB is worthy of protection

Is there a builiding or feature in the AONB which you feel is worthy of protection?

English Heritage has produced a series of selection guides which help you determine if a building is of national importance

The wide range of buildings and structures is divided into 20 categories ranging from Agricultural Buildings to Utilities and Communications.  In each guide, an historical introduction is followed by a consideration of designation issues, together with sources of further information

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Explore heritage that is off the beaten path using the new SW adventure cycle map

The 1 South West project is about ensuring you have great off-road cycling adventures in some of Britain’s most beautiful countryside .

We want you to feel good and share great times across the south west.  Whether you explore alone or with family and friends, an off-road cycling adventure is yours to create.  1 South West provides the information to help you plan and enjoy great adventures time and again.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Salisbury & South Wiltshire Museum Course: Humans and Environmental Change


Salisbury & South Wiltshire Museum Course: Humans and Environmental Change

12 Apr 2012 - 28 Jun 2012 10:30 - 12:30
Lecture Hall - Salisbury & South Wiltshire Museum

Every Thursday 12 April  –  28 June 2012, 10.30 am – 12.30 pm (including two field trips).  A course by  Hadrian Cook and Adrian Green.  This course will address changes in human technology and investigate their impact on the environment. Local and global examples will be used by way of illustration.

New video extract of oral history of a underwood coppice wood worker

The Cranborne Chase and West Wiltshire Downs AONB is undertaking oral histories of coppice wood workers. Watch this video to find out about Ernie Steel and his life as an Underwood Coppice Worker.

Visit for more information

Sneak view of Out of the Earth exhibition at Salisbury Museum

Out of the Earth

Sneak view of the exhibition of art and archaeology exploring the secrets hidden beneath the prehistoric landscape of Cranborne Chase. Renowed Potter Chris Carter and archaeologist Martin Green share their fascination with the prehistoric past of the Cranborne Chase. The AONB team were fortunate to be offered a tour by Martin, and i can throughly recommened this thought provoking and beautiful exhibition.

Salisbury Museum - 19th October 2011 until 14th January 2011

Next Dorset History Forum lecture Saturday 19th November 2011

Dorset History Forum & Dorset Records Society People, property & places: Sources for local historians
  1703by Dr Judith Ford and the Dorset History Forum AGM.
Saturday 19th November 2011 - at Woodmead Halls, Lyme Regis

This will be a day school held in partnership with the Dorset Records Society on taxation records for local and family historians. The day will include the launch of the latest Record Society volume: Birth, Marriage, Death and Taxes: Lyme Regis Censuses 1695

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Wiltshire's Place in England's Agrarian History Lecture 12th November 2011

Wiltshire's Place in England's Agrarian History, Illustrated Lecture by Professor John Chartres, Lecture Hall, Devizes Museum, 2.30pm Saturday 12 November 2011.  Cost £5.00, WANHS Members £3.00.

Agriculture in Wiltshire was vastly more important in the past, socially and economically, than it now is, but we still have a lot of countryside in the county. Professor Kerridge and Dr Thirsk have identified different distinctive ‘farming countries’ in England, based on geology and climatology and distance from the London market, besides other considerations. We all know about ‘chalk and cheese’.  Professor Chartres, recently retired as Professor of Economic History at the University of Leeds, will set the agricultural history of Wiltshire in a national context over time.

Advanced booking is essential for this lecture.  Either book online at Wiltshire’s Agrarian History or contact the Bookings Secretary on 01380 727 369 or email her at

Lecture on the Damerham Archaeology Project tonight

Don't forget to attend the lecture by Helen Wickstead and Martyn Barber on the Damerham Archaeology Project in the Lecture Hall at Salisbury Museum on Tuesday, 8th November, at 7.30pm.  They will be able to report on this year`s work, so you can find out all about the new discoveries on this amazing site.  The charge to non-members is £3.50. 

View images from the Cranborne Chase Woodfair inc. Regia Angolorum in action

The AONB team thought you might be interested in viewing our encapsulated image library of photos taken at the Woodfair this October. This includes shots of the amazing reenactment group Regia Anglorum. I've uploaded them to our Flickr account which you can view by clicking on the image below: See if there's anyone you recognise, you could be in for a surprise.

Still chance to see the Fovant Badges on BBC Countryfile

Hope you caught the special remembrance edition of countryfile featuring the Fovant Camps and Badges.

The badges were carved into the hillside by solidiers stationed at Fovant during the first world war.

These are official war memorials made out of packed chalk dug from the hillside. It took about 50 tonnes of chalk per badge.

They are a visible reminder of the sacrifices of the first world war.

Liz Harden from the Fovant Historical
Interest Group was able to provide poignant information on the lives of the soldiers who lived at the camp.

To find out more visit the Fovant Badge Association Website, the Fovant Historical Interest Group and view the programme through the BBC iplayer

click to enlarge

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Forthcoming Lecture on Damerham Archaeology Project at Salisbury Museum

A talk by Dr Helen Wickstead, Kingston University and Martyn Barber, English Heritage on the Damerham Archaeology Project. 08th Nov 2011 19:30

A lecture in the Salisbury Museum Archaeology Lectures (SMAL) series. SMAL lectures are held on the second Tuesday of each month from September to April in the Lecture Hall at the Salisbury and South Wiltshire Museum

Monday, 3 October 2011

Oral history of Coppice Worker to be shown at the Cranborne Chase Woodfair

Today we are editing a short video featuring Ernie Steele a traditional coppice worker from the Cranborne Chase. We will be showing the video at this weekends Cranborne Chase Woodfair on the 8th and 9th October. See

Saturday, 1 October 2011

West Country Carriers. Lecture at Devizes Museum 29th October 2011

West Country Carriers and Stage Coaches Before and After Turnpiking 1640-1780, an Illustrated Lecture by Dorian Gerhold, Lecture Hall, Devizes Museum
Saturday 29 October 2011. Cost £5 (Members £3)


Dorian Gerhold FSA is a Principal Clerk at the House of Commons who is also a very professional writer on historical topics.  This lecture will throw new light on the economic and social development of life in the West of England and is sure to appeal to anyone interested in how goods were transported before HGV's and motorways.  For more information and to book on line visit West Country Carriers and Stage Coaches or telephone the Bookings Secretary on 01380 727 369 or email her at

Friday, 30 September 2011

Flint and Pottery Courses at the Ancient Technology Centre, Cranborne

Ancient Technology Centre Courses
15 & 16th October 2011

Flint Knapping

Stone tool production reaches back over 2.5 million years and is the first visible archaeology.  This course will introduce the fundamental methods of shaping and working flint to produce tools and look at turning worked flint into composite tools such as arrows, axes, or sickles.

Three methods will be explored, hard hammer percussion, soft hammer percussion, and pressure flaking and their will be ample opportunity to knap flint under direct guidance from an experienced knapper.  Day two will provide an opportunity to work on a knapping project and explore the production of birch tar glues and sinew work for creating composite tools.

The course is run by Luke Winter, manager of the ATC and experimental archaeologist whose past research has centred on the replication of stone tools, their use in butchery tasks and what this tells us about human evolution and cultural development.

This course is designed for beginners and aims to develop a set of skills that can be improved with further practice.  The type of tool produced in this course depends entirely on individual skill.               £99.00 including longhouse stay.

Neolithic / Bronze age Pottery

Experience experimental archaeology first hand as make and fire Neolithic / Bronze age pottery Using  locally sourced clays with added traditional tempers we will make pots and decorate them using neolithic techniques.
On the first day we will start by preparing our own clay, grog / tempers then  build our own simple pots and the learn delicate art of  fire management. The fire will burn on into the evening and will be a great social event so bring an instrument, a story or experience as we tend the fire into the night.
On day two we will look at the success of our firing  and then concentrate on making beakers and urns using traditional techniques. As pots need a significant drying period participants can take their pots home to fire themselves or we can do it for you in a conventional Kiln.
Anna Hudson is an experienced potter, crafts person and artist who has worked with the centre for several years. Her experiences are many and varied and attention to detail second to none. 
£99.00 including longhouse stay.

To book your place call Pascale on 01725 517618 ……

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Forthcoming Talk on the Knowlton Prehistoric Landscape at Salisbury Museum

Lecture at Slaisbury and South Wiltshire Museum 11 Oct 2011 19:30
The Knowlton Prehistoric Landscape Project – We know a lot about Round Barrows don’t we?
“Round Barrows – That’s where Bronze Age people buried their dead init! Nuff said”. Factually correct, if a tad simplistic, but of course the potential for learning more about society from studying these monuments it could be argued is still in its infancy. The landscape of Cranborne Chase has been at the forefront of British prehistory and archaeology since the middle of the 19th century, it having one of the densest concentrations of prehistoric monuments in north-west Europe.

In 2003 John Gale embarked upon a seasonal campaign of excavations at the little known and apparently flattened barrow group at High Lea Farm near Hinton Martell north of Wimborne. The fieldwork was completed in 2009 and the analysis currently under way is discovering information which suggests that we still have a lot to learn about these ‘familiar’ monuments of the Wessex landscape.  

John will also be incorporating some early results of his recent survey work at the Clandon Barrow in west Dorset which has a bearing on the lecture title.

 A lecture in the Salisbury Museum Archaeology Lectures (SMAL) series. SMAL lectures are held on the second Tuesday of each month from September to April.

Saturday, 24 September 2011

Coming Soon.. Exhibition by the Archaeologist Martin Green 'Out of the Earth' at Salisbury Museum 19th Oct onwards

Renowned potter Chris Carter and archaeologist Martin Green share their fascination with the prehistoric past of Cranborne Chase.  Through art and artefact, they reveal a story of the humans that occupied the landscape before history was written. The exhibition runs from the 22nd October to 14th January 2012 at Salisbury and South Wiltshire Museum
Out of the Earth
Out of the Earth explores a dialogue between artist and archaeologist as they respond to the objects excavated from flint-rich soils of Cranborne Chase.  Artefacts from Martin’s own museum, which displays the finds he has discovered over the years, will be on display alongside Chris’s artwork and objects from Salisbury Museum and Wiltshire Heritage Museum.  Together, the objects describe and uncover the imprints left by farming, community and ritual activities in the past.

Chris and Martin describe themselves as ‘sons of the soil’, both having been raised on farms in the countrysides of Warwickshire and Dorset.  They met following a BBC4 radio show ‘Open Country’ which featured Down Farm on Cranborne Chase.  Martin had been excavating there since he inherited it in 1979 and Chris’s interest in the Chase landscape soon developed into a passion for exploring it through his art.

The exhibition shows new developments in Chris’s work and is itself a testimony to the continuing influence of prehistoric people on us today as their artistry, communities and ritual activities are re-discovered through archaeology.  Chris describes the way he searches for his pots in the clay as akin to the archaeologist’s search for an object in the earth.  Cranborne Chase has encouraged his art to take new routes which have seen him sculpting from flint and creating 2D collage works.  A deep-seated influence of the landscape and farming is apparent in his work; his pots suggest the sinuous twist of the plough and the symmetry of the stone axe, whilst the surface textures reflect the processes of people and nature on the landscape.

Both pot and artefact have a power and contemplative quality that makes Out of the Earth an exhibition not to be missed.  Here, the passion for the Cranborne landscape and for the people who lived on and moulded it, is deep-seated, inherent and heartfelt.  The stories revealed are told by two people who know the landscape intimately, both inside and out, and can tell those stories with an authority and understanding that cannot be disputed. 

Friday, 23 September 2011

Man Made Water Bodies are an important feature of the AONB as new guidance explains

There is evidence for relic water meadows stretching along the bottom of all the chalk river valleys in the AONB including bedworks, sluices and bridges. These provide evidence for the former crucial role of the sheep-corn system of agriculture in the AONB from AD 1600 to AD 1900.

Bedworks in former Water Meadow
The former use of water meadows and mills, and the creation of ponds and lakes have all had an impact on the landscape of the AONB seen today.

 Systems of fish ponds and small man-made lakes are associated with chalk rivers and river valley bottoms, many of these have Medieval origins, but some also forming modern heavily designed commercial fish farms. Man-made lakes are associated with the creation of 'formal' designed landscapes of the 18th and 19th century's, including Fonthill and the pleasure lake at Shearwater - these are much more common in the northern half of the AONB.

Former mill buildings,are scattered through the river valleys including remnants of water wheels, mill races and mill ponds in chalk river valleys. These all mark evidence of former exploitation of water power in the valleys.

There are several operational watercress beds in the AONB marking the remnants of a once much more thriving industry in the chalk river valleys.

There is some evidence for the manipulation of the chalk rivers' especially where they flow through settlements - here the chalk rivers are contained in stone sided channels and the houses are often located on the opposing bank to the historic routeways, each with an individual stone bridge. The villages are associated with historic 'river' crossing points, including fords and clapper bridges.

More information on the historic use of water of the AONB can be accessed by clicking here: Theme 12: Water in the Landscape.

If you are responsible for managing a historic man made water bodies English Heritage have published some useful guidance entitled Moats, Ponds and Ornamental Lakes in the Historic Environment

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Views, historic character and the AONB

View points and views are how many people appreciate the AONB in the past and today. English Heritage have published a useful guide entitle 'Seeing the History in the View' which helps to assess the historic significance of views. This  provides one way of valuing views within this AONB and further afield.

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Grassland Trust has published Natures Tapestry, which highlights historic as well as natural importance of grasslands

This new document highlights the importance of grasslands for wildlife rich but as providing an irreplaceable link to understanding our long relationship with the land. This chimes with the AONB Historic Landscape Characterisation which has highlighted the historic importance of unimproved downland in the Cranborne Chase and West Wiltshire Downs.

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Cranborne Chase Art on Show at Dorset County Museum in October

'Art in the Shadow of the Chase' is a free exhibition opening at Dorset County Museum, Dorchester on the 22nd October. Focusing on artists who have been inspired by the Cranborne Chase. The exhibition runs until 21st January 2012

"Cranborne: Art in the shadow of the Chase" is a ground-breaking exhibition about the artists who over the last hundred years have found in Cranborne Chase and its hinterland a landscape of ‘bare bone’ beauty and retreat.

The paintings, drawings, sculpture and other artwork  in the exhibition have come from a variety of sources, and range from early neo-romantic work of the 1920s to contemporary work specially made for this exhibition. The list of artists is extensive and includes painters: John Craxton, members of the Nicholson family (Winifred, Ben, E.Q., Tim), Lucian Freud, Derek Hill, Augustus John, Henry Lamb, Katharine Church (Kitty West),  Frances Hodgkins, Nora, Amy and Gabriel Summers, James Allardyce, Peggy Rankin, Christopher Row, Mavis Freer, Ursula Leach, Brian Graham, John Hubbard, Paul Jones, Howard Pearce and John Hitchens. There is also sculpture by Elisabeth Frink, Peter Thursby, Ian Middleton and Ann Catherine Row; pottery by Richard Batterham, Chris Carter, Lucy Yarwood and Leonie Summers; glass by Joseph A. Nuttgens and  textile rugs by Louisa Creed and Rod Hill.

In spite of all the changes which have occurred in the last hundred years with increasing urbanisation of the countryside, the Chase has remained topographically intact. It is still a breath taking landscape, an area of outstanding beauty, sparsely populated with large estates small hamlets and villages. It remains an ‘island’, a place apart, and it is this isolation, along with its unique landscape which continues to attract artists today. Like threads of  a mycelium there continues to be  connections between places, painters and their art. Pulling together the work of artists from the recent past and some of those working today, the exhibition will affirm the special qualities of Cranborne Chase and its hinterland and demonstrate that it retains the power to inspire artistic creativity and new progressive art. 

The exhibition is to be accompanied by a richly-illustrated publication Circles _and Tangents :  Art in the shadow of Cranborne Chase, _written by curator, author and artist Vivienne Light FRSA.

Monday, 19 September 2011

Black Country produces animated Historic Landscape Characterisation

Following the publication of a review of HLC results online. Black Country Archaeology Service have experimeneted with producing an animation of the development of land-use in the Black Country based on their HLC.  If you are interested their efforts are available from the 'Distinictly Black Country Website'.

Sunday, 18 September 2011

English Heritage produces a review of Historic Landscape Characterisation on the web

Earlier this year, Wolverhampton City Council carried out a rapid review for English Heritage of the current availability of Historic Landscape Characterisation material on the web. The report is now available on line at

The report provides a state of the moment description of how many of the 40 HLCs that are complete have results available on line and in what form; it also includes a list of web links. The review also tapped into a rich layer of enthusiasm within local authorities and AONBs for making HLC results more widely available to a broader public. This enables the report to look ahead to ways in which the present level of access can be improved.

The Cranborne Chase and West Wiltshire Downs AONB Historic Landscape Website is held up as an example of best practice in this document

Saturday, 17 September 2011

Day School on Vernacular Architecture Saturday 29th October 2011

The Wiltshire Buildings Record has organised a day school entitled 'The Kitchen: The Heart of the Home From Medieval to Victorian - the development of kitchens and service rooms through the ages'
Market Lavington Community Hall, St Mary’s Rd, Market Lavington, Devizes, SN10 4DG (modern facilities and ample parking)

This will be held on Saturday 29th October 2011, 10.30-1630 (10.00 coffee) at

John Broad (University of Cambridge)
Detached kitchens
Pam Slocombe (Author of “Wiltshire Farmhouses and Cottages”)
Malting, brewing & dairying in Wiltshire houses
David Clark (President of the Vernacular Architecture Group,
Secretary Oxfordshire Buildings Record)
Service rooms of Oxfordshire
Kathryn Ferry (Author of “The Victorian Home”)
Below stairs - the Victorian Kitchen

Tickets are £12.50, WBR Members, Students and Senior Citizens £10.00
Available from Wiltshire Buildings Record (Day Course),
Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre, Cocklebury Road,
Chippenham, Wilts, SN15 3QN.
Telephone 01249 705508

Friday, 16 September 2011

Dorset Manorial Register to be launched 29th September 2011 Dorset History Centre

The Dorset History Centre is launching the Dorset Manorial Documents Register on the 29th September 2011 at the Dorset History Centre.

This is the official register of manorial documents for England and Wales and enables researches to locale manorial documents acorss the county. The manorial record for Dorset has been revised and is available through the National Archives website.

The history centre has also produced a Manorial Documents Guide and an online Educational Resource Pack for schools.

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Wiltshire Buildings Record guided tour of Salisbury 17th September 2011

Wiltshire Buildings Record is holding a guided tour of selected buildings in the area of the market place Salisbury. Our guide is Gerald Steer, WBR member and local architect who has been actively involved in the restoration a number of medieval buildings in Salisbury. This is an excellent opportunity to get behind the façade and understand how these buildings and the area in the vicinity of the market place, has evolved. Contact Dorothy Treasure at the Wiltshire Buildings Record for more information.

AONB Project mentioned in English Heritage Review

The Cranborne Chase and West Wiltshire Downs AONB Historic Environment Action Plan project forms part of a review by English Heritage called 'IMPACT, the English Heritage Historic Environment Commissions Report for 2007-10. ' For the first time this report covers projects funded under the Historic Environment Enabling Programme (HEEP) and the Aggregate Levy Sustainability fund (ALSF).

The projects that  English Heritage enabled through grants from these programmes delivered understanding of the past, and encourage dpeople to value, care for, and enjoy their historic environment.  In financial years 2007-10 they distributed c£19 m on projects commissioned against national priorities in support of SHAPE English Heritage’s Strategic framework for Historic environment Activities and Programmes.  

Visit a 'living' Medieval Village at the Cranborne Chase Woodfair 8th/9th October

The Cranborne Chase Woodfair is celebration of the historic woodlands of the area and the associated crafts and industries that it represents. From timeless crafts to contemporary designs; from modern day forestry techniques to the demonstration of a range of practical rural skills, there is something for everyone. It is being held on the 8th and 9th October 2011 at the Cranborne Chase Woodfair.

In order to celebrate 30 years of the Cranborne Chase and West Wiltshire Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), and also the culmination of our Historic Landscape project, Regia Anglorum will be re-enacting what life would have been like living and working on the Cranborne Chase. It will also be a demonstration of why the Cranborne Chase is famous worldwide for being a medieval hunting forest.
'We are not purely a combat society and have come a long way from the old hack and bash image associated with many re-enactment societies. There is always a certain glory to be found in recreating and reliving famous and the not-so-famous battles of times past - but they are not the sum total of history. They are specific points in time which were interspersed by long periods where the people living then, got on with their normal existence which is equally fascinating. In this way, we are not in fact just a 're-enactment' group, but a 'living history society'.
Come back with us to 1086 and see us demonstrate the changing fashions of the times, and see how people living then, got on with their normal lives.

Explore our medieval village where you can find out more about the life and times of Medieval Britain. Regia hopes to inject some reality into these once everyday activities. Whilst this can include getting cold, wet and reeking of wood smoke, just sitting around the campfire with your friends is an atmospheric experience in itself, which we hope brings the 11th century back to life for you.

Thursday, 4 August 2011

A look back the Festival of Archaeology & the Cranborne Chase AONB

The AONBs first year taking part in the Festival of Archaeology was a resounding success. We kicked off with a day seminar on the history and archaeology of the AONB landscape on the 23rd July. This was attended by 87 people from across the counties of Dorset, Wiltshire, Hampshire and Somerset.

James Stanford, AONB Chair welcomed everyone to the day, and I provided a brief overview of the area. We were treated to fascinating talks on the new perspectives and discoveries in the Wylye and Allen Valley, from Mike Allen and Julie Gardiner. INtroduied to new discoveries from the Damerham Archaeology Project (Helen Wickstead & Martyn Barber), and the Teffont Archaeology Project (David Roberts). Martin Papworth provided an overview of Durotrigian identity in the Iron Age. We also learnt about new aerial archaeological discoveries (Martyn Barber) and new discoveries from reanalysing the Wor Barrow (Mike Allen)

The AONB team felt the day went extremely well and this was backed up by emails we have received subsequently, including comments like the following:

“I want to congratulate you, and thank you for organising such a wonderfully inspiring and informative seminar on Saturday.  The speakers were brilliant and I certainly want to keep in touch with what they are all doing”.

The following Saturday 30th, 26 people joined us at Martin Green’s Farm to visit his museum and explore the archaeology on his farm. In the afternoon we had a guided walk around Gussage and Wyke Down. The rain held of and we had glorious views across the chase. This event was so popular we were oversubscribed three times.

Friday, 29 July 2011

Just took part in the Day of Archaeology #dayofarch - so you can see a snapshot of my day and 399 other archaeologists

My name is Emma and I am the Historic Environment Action Plan Project Officer for the Cranborne Chase and West Wiltshire Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. What a mouthful! Basically what this is about is a gorgeous piece of protected landscape on the Wiltshire Dorset border which incorporates the amazing prehistoric archaeology of the Cranborne Chase, a host of Medieval hunting landscapes, the Vale of Wardour and the chalk landscape of the West Wiltshire Downs. Since 2009  we have been prodocuing a landscape scale vision for the conservation and enhancement of the historic environment of this landscape, and have developed a series of 20 actions to achieve this. We were lucky to secure English Heritage funding for this project as a best practice exemplar for other protected areas.

We are now at the stage of implementing these actions, which leads to a snapshot of my day which has been as is typical very varied...

... first thing i had a meeting with a AONB volunteer who is leading on an action to help our parishes and communities to analyse record the historic landscape character of their villages and the surrounding landscape to inform Village Design Statements and the like. We had a trial workshop at Pimperne on Monday evening and we went through the results and looked at what worked and what didnt

... i drafted a proposal for South Wiltshire CPRE outlining how they might potentially help with the implementation of the Historic Environment Action plans

...i  sat down with my manager Linda and discussed the arrangements for a guided walk we have organised in conjunction with Martin Green on Down Farm on the Cranborne Chase. This is the second event which we have organised as part of the  festival of archaeology. The first was an archaeology seminar last Saturday on the history and archaeology of the area which 85 people came to and which was a fantastic day

...i then coordinated with Laura the eductaion officer at Salisbury Museum over a meeting she is hosting next week focusing on interprepation, education and access to the historic environment of the AONB, and how the various museums, organisations etc can work together better up i responded to a proposal for a Higher Level Stewardship scheme from Natural England on one of the designed landscapes in the AONB and gave some feedback

... i sent some details on a historic farmstead i visited yesterday to one of our local councillors 

... finally I got some GIS files and maps ready for next week. I have scanned some slides for Martin Green and amgiving him the .jpegs tomorow. On Tuesday am visiting the Wiltshire Archaeology Service to hand over the AONB Historic Landscape Characterisation and some other GIS files, popping into the Wiltshire Building Record and then going to see our collegues at North Wessex Downs to chat through some Historic Landscape Characterisation data with them.

...the last thing i am doing today is completing this for the Day of Archaeology and will probably post it to my own blog too. See

Thats all for me if you want to know more about our project visit