Jan 202021

As you will know from our directory of member studies, and from posts on this blog, many Society members have set up websites or blogs to share data and stories relating their one-place studies. More of our members want to join their ranks and would like some guidance, judging by feedback from our online meetings and our recent members’ survey. We know too that several members who are in the early stages of setting up new websites would be equally grateful for some support.

There are several ways in which we could address this need, but here’s what I personally have decided to do: I’m going to start a brand new one-place study, create a website for it, and blog about the process right here. I invite you to follow my progress and contribute your thoughts and questions along the way. I have no fixed route map for this journey, and while the decisions I make will be my own, your input will influence what I do.

I have already chosen my Place. It’s local to me and is somewhere I’ve visited many times over the years, so I know the area and have photographs of it already. Another important factor contributing to my choice, given other pressures on the time I have available, is that my new Place has a very small population! I’ll reveal the location of this Place in due course – for now, we’ll be focussing on the website for my new study.

Before we start planning this journey however, let’s take a step back and think about why we’re making it at all. Although one of the ten steps to a one-place study is to disseminate the results of our research, this can be done without a website or blog. Those looking to share the fruits of their OPS labours have several other ways of doing so, such as writing articles for magazines or journals (including Destinations), publishing a book, putting on exhibitions, or giving presentations. (Of course, at the time of writing the last two of the aforementioned options could be ruled out for many by Covid-related restrictions.)

The advantages of publishing your work online, on a website or blog (or both), fall into two main categories. One is greater flexibility:

  • You can add to your website or blog as much or as little as you want, when you want
  • You can update the content you have posted at any time
  • You can embed media content from other online platforms, such as YouTube
  • Many blogging platforms allow you to change the layout and appearance of your site by switching to a new theme

Unlike an article, a book, an exhibition or a presentation, for as long as you are able to work on your website it need never be a ‘finished product’. (That said, what you publish online might eventually form the basis for a book!)

The other advantage of an online home for your one-place study research is the larger, wider audience you can reach:

  • Your work is accessible to anyone with an internet connection
  • With that reach comes the potential for greater interaction with people who share your interest in your Place
  • Some of those people may want to know more about the history of the area in which they or their ancestors live or lived
  • Some may offer information, documents or images they can contribute to your OPS.

Family history bloggers talk about their blogs or websites acting as ‘cousin bait’ because of the way they attract contact from people connected to their families. I’m not sure what the one-place study equivalent of that term would be (suggestions please!), but the principle can definitely translate to our field of research.

There are of course potential problems and pitfalls too. Some of those related to sharing family trees online also apply to sharing one-place study data and stories – the pros as well as the cons of sharing family trees online are summed up neatly by our member Jane Roberts (St Mary of the Angels Catholic Church War Memorial, Batley OPS) in her recent blog post Public or Private Family Tree?). The issues flagged up by Jane which could translate to OPS websites include:

  • Information control (the potential for others to copy/download your work and use it elsewhere, perhaps even passing it off as their own), and a related issue…
  • Photo ‘theft’ (people copying/downloading photos – which you may have been given individual permission to use on your site – and using them elsewhere), which leads on to…
  • Copyright (not just abuse of copyright by those taking content from your site, but also potential copyright issues with the material you have put online), and finally the possibility of…
  • Reduced contacts (which might happen because people who share your interest in your Place find everything they want on your site and so don’t ‘reach out’ to you).

Overall, I personally think the positives of blogging and sharing data online – for the one-placer and for the wider family history and local history communities – outweigh the negatives. However when setting up your own website or blog, you may wish to consider what you are comfortable with sharing online, and what you would prefer to keep offline. (There’s also the possibility of putting information online and making it accessible by logging in with a password – see our member Anna Darelli-Anderson’s One-Place Studies as an example. Be sure to comply with data protection legislation, such GDPR in the EU and UK, if such a system gathers personal data from users / members.)

Besides the issues outlined above there may also be others, concerning the skills needed to create, maintain and add content to a website. The steepness of the ‘learning curve’ depends in part on how tech-savvy you are, and in part on how you choose to set up your website. Don’t let any of this put you off! Choosing a ‘vehicle’ for our journey to a one-place study website will be the subject of the next instalment of this series of blog posts.

Steve Jackson
Social Media Coordinator
Waters Upton One-Place Study

Members—you can chat about this project in our forum! Make sure you're logged in and post in the Building a one-place study website and blog topic on the General discussion board.

Jan 172021

The Concise Oxford Dictionary defines ‘landmark’ as ‘an object or feature of a landscape or town that is easily seen and recognised from a distance’ or, historically, ‘the boundary of an area of land, or an object marking this’. In view of this, I’m not sure my choice from Moreleigh really qualifies as a landmark at all!

The remains of Stanborough Hillfort or Camp itself are not easily identified as such close up, let alone recognisable from a distance… unless it’s from above. Neither do they define or mark a boundary. However, it can perhaps be argued that the fact that the Camp has all but disappeared, marks an important change to the nature of the dangers faced by the inhabitants of ancient South Devon.

Imagery ©2021 Google, Imagery ©2021 CNES / Airbus, Getmapping plc,
Infoterra Ltd & Bluesky, Maxar Technologies, Map data ©2021

Although not situated on the coast, the inland settlements of the South Hams area of Devon were, once upon a time, at serious risk from invading Norsemen, whose boats could sail up from the Kingsbridge Estuary along a number of creeks to join rivers inland such as the Avon, Dart, Erme, Plym, Teign and Yealm.

Stanborough Camp is situated on the old parish border between Moreleigh and Halwell (they are now one, combined parish) and was one of many Iron Age hillforts built in the South Hams, indicating the dangers faced from maritime invaders. In his 1901 paper ‘On some Earthworks in the South Hams…’ [1], EAS Elliot suggests that there was an attack on nearby Halwell by the Danes in 835AD, who subsequently took over the camp at Stanborough. Dr Elliot mentions a number of large tumuli (burial mounds) close to the camp which are ‘suggestive of terrible slaughter’.

Stanborough Camp was described in around 1630 as ‘an old fort now no better than a heap of stones called by the name of Stanborough from whence the Hundred hath name’ [2], indeed the Hundred Court had been moved there from Diptford [3]. By 1906, it was more sympathetically described in the ‘Victoria County History of Devon’ [4]:

… a compact ellipse of single vallum and fosse [defensive wall/ rampart, and ditch], enclosing about 3½ acres. The height and depth of the rampart and ditch vary considerably; the former rising 10ft from the interior, descends 14ft into the fosse, which is 3ft in some places and in others 5ft 6in. Due east is the strongest defence, guarding the entrance on the south-east.

It is situated on the highest point of undulating ground commanding a view of the shipping in Start Bay, and was probably used as a signalling station between Slapton Castle, Woodbury Castle, Dartmouth and Dittisham, on one side, and the inland strongholds of Halwell and Blackdown. Coins and pottery are said to have been found within its area… Several large tumuli are in an adjoining brake [thicket].

This clearly shows the ideal strategic position occupied by the hillfort. Interestingly, there was once also a standing stone, known as ‘The Old Man’, just outside the Camp but it had disappeared by 1906 [5], although a number of historical maps show it in position. The remains of a large bowl barrow (a funerary monument) with a central stone chamber, enclosed by the later hillfort, still survive to the southeast of the hillfort's centre [6]. Stanborough Camp Iron Age hillfort and bowl barrow were listed as a scheduled monument in August 1923 [7].

I said at the beginning that Stanborough Camp could not itself be accurately described as a landmark. However, what’s left of the ramparts on the hilltop are covered with large mature beech trees [8] and it is these that are a landmark for many miles around – the beauty of nature marking the site of this remnant of Devon’s bloody past.

Photos of Stanborough Camp used with kind permission of Twitter user @Monk_Po.

Nicola Byrnes
Moreleigh One-Place Study


[1] EAS Elliot, ‘On some Earthworks in the South Hams, Probably Concerned in the Irishmen’s Raid, and others in the immediate neighbourhood belonging to Judhel de Totnais’; Report and Transactions of the Devonshire Association for the Advancement of Science, Literature and Art, Volume 33, p483; 1901

[2] T Risdon, ‘Choreographical Description of Devon, 1580-1640’, 1811; www.heritagegateway.org.uk – Devon and Dartmoor HER; accessed 9 January 2021

[3] Rev. O. J. Reichel, ‘The Hundreds of Devon. XV. Stanborough or Dippeforda in the Time of Test de Nevil, A. D. 1243’; Report and Transactions of the Devonshire Association for the Advancement of Science, Literature and Art, Volume 45, p198; 1913

[4] William Page, Editor, The Victoria History of the Counties of England, A History of Devonshire, Volume 1; Archibald Constable & Co Ltd; 1906; p607

[5] EAS Elliot, ‘On some Earthworks in the South Hams, Probably Concerned in the Irishmen’s Raid, and others in the immediate neighbourhood belonging to Judhel de Totnais’; Report and Transactions of the Devonshire Association for the Advancement of Science, Literature and Art, Volume 33, p483; 1901

[6] Historic England, www.historicengland.org.uk; accessed 9 January 2021; list entry number 1019314

[7] Idem

[8] Idem

Jan 062021

Landmarks are odd things, really. You initially think they are something physical, fixed, defined in space, available to all and experienced much the same by all. But what they define is more ephemeral – they define movement, they define emotion. They are the blackened tree, split by lightening decades ago, standing in the field you pass by, signalling you've completed the city part of your trip and are now entering the rural portion. They are the "humpty bridges", giving your children a brief moment of fun to look forward to during the journey as the car flies just a little bit too fast over them – not quite airborne because you’re a responsible driver but enough that you get the physical sensation of taking off. They are the farm gate that indicates you're nearly home.

This is why identifying your #OnePlaceLandmarks is actually pretty difficult if you don't live, and have never lived, in your place. You haven't approached your place over and over and over in all different seasons at all different ages from all different angles, so you just don't know what actually is a landmark for your place's residents. Sure, you can speculate about particular built or natural features that seem like they'd be a marker, but you don’t have the emotional connection or the layers of memories that really mark out something as a landmark.

Here's a thing that seems to me that it might be a landmark for my place of Wing in Buckinghamshire. This is (a terrible photo of) Wingpark Clump. It’s a clump of trees in a field just to the south of the village, and if you’re approaching from the south it would be the visible thing that, once you can see it, you know you’re nearly there. You’re almost home. Just that last climb up the hill to go.

Wingpark Clump (c) Alex Coles 2013 and used with permission

Alex Coles

Jan 052021

This is my attempt to find towns and cities across the world with the words from the song The Twelve Days of Christmas in the names. Our last day of these is Day Twelve where the True Love gives Drummers Drumming.

A slightly disappointing end to this challenge as there appear to be no Drummer, Drummers or Drumming placenames that I could find anywhere in the world!

There is a Drummersville in North Carolina, USA, as well as 3 Drummer Lakes in Canada, a Drummers Creek in Queensland, Australia, a Drummer Mountain in Washington state USA, and a Drumming Hill in Saskatchewan, Canada, all of which go some way to making up for the lack of the words alone in placenames.

I hope you have enjoyed this romp through some unusual placenames! If you have any ideas for further challenges, please do let us know in the comments or via email to the Committee!

Karen Bailey
Marketing Manager

Jan 042021

This is my attempt to find towns and cities across the world with the words from the song The Twelve Days of Christmas in the names. On the penultimate day, Day Eleven, the True Love gives Eleven Pipers Piping.

There was one Pipers placename that I found, which was in Westmoreland, Jamaica, however I did find a further eight of the singular Piper places. Curiously, all of these were in the USA - in Pennsylvania, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Montana, Missouri, Kansas, Iowa and Alabama.

Similarly, there wasn’t any places called Piping, but there were four Pipes: in Mashonaland Central, Zimbabwe; in Wisconsin, USA; in Braga, Portugal; and in the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Are there any Pipers or Pipings near you or your study Place? Do let me know in the comments!

Karen Bailey
Marketing Manager