Some of us are number-lovers who like nothing more than a juicy spreadsheet and a tasty graph. They see their studies in terms of individuals within populations and trends. Was this pattern of occupations typical of similar communities? Was the community growing or shrinking and who was moving in or out? Why was there a glut of baptisms in our places at a certain period? And so on.

Many of us have the sneaky feeling that we would understand the lives of people in our places better if we had some understanding of how to handle numbers and draw conclusions. At our August webinar I discussed the surge in mortality in the parish of Crosthwaite, Cumbria (which includes my Newlands valley study area) in 1592 and the possible reasons behind this. This included a couple of graphs illustrating numbers and trends – example below.Crosthwaite - graph of births, marriages and deaths This sparked a good discussion on the history, but also a good discussion about the best way of analysing and presenting this data. The upshot of this is going to be a couple of papers in Destinations at some stage. The first is a summary of my findings, the second by Peter Burnhill who has kindly agreed to write an introduction to the best ways to check whether blips in a data trend are real or chance.


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