#NewForest: using social media and mobile data to manage our heritage – Abstract & Video

The following paper was presented at the New Forest Knowledge Conference 2017 entitled: New Forest Historical Research and Archaeology: who’s doing it? Below you will find the abstract of the paper and a video of the paper given if permission to film it was given by the speaker.


Lawrence Shaw, New Forest National Park Authority & University of Winchester


In recent years, funding bodies such as the Heritage Lottery Fund and Higher Level Stewardship schemes have help facilitate the development of volunteer lead heritage recording programs in the New Forest. Overseen by project officers, these not only help to record and protect archaeological assets but also engages local residents with this unique protected landscape. Whilst proven to be successful in their aims, these approaches regularly misses out on the engagement of younger audiences. Much like the rest of the heritage sector, 12-24 year olds have rarely engaged with this work, yet the importance of educating this age group with these landscapes is still as important as ever, not least because they will inherit these national assets in years to come. This research has looked to tackle this issue through the utilisation of new Big Data sets including social media and anonymised mobile data to help officers understand how this hard to reach audience see and uses the New Forest. By understanding this it may then be possible to develop new projects that engage this hard to reach audience in a way that was not previously possible whilst also gaining vital citizen science data that can be used to record and enhance the New Forest’s special heritage.

The Talk

1944 New Forest Diary Entry

The Forest is the greatest of all ironies. The gentle running streams, the majestic trees, the breath taking views, the animals that roam as free as they wish, while men who come here in time of war have no freedom, no majesty, no gentleness, for we are unwittingly engaged in the destruction of Forest lands with our Tanks, our airfields, our camps and our heavy boots upon the rich earth. We are hardened because we are prepared for what war will throw at us now.

It is in the rich soil of our country that we repatriate and lay our dead who from this Forest set out to win freedom, their lives then shortened by the bullet and the bomb. Yet in years to come the trees will still grow, the streams will still flow while our history fades beneath the feet of future generations who may ask, what happened here in this place of such enduring beauty.

Maurice Thomas, 1944

The above extract is from a soldier’s diary dated 1944 around the time of D Day and is reporduced with the permission of John Leete, the full extract will be appearing in his New Forest At War book to be released soon. Discover more: Here

2nd Battalion Northumberland Fusiliers training in Lyndhurst

A series of photos following the training exercises of 2nd Battalion Northumberland Fusiliers with Light Machine Guns on Whitemoor, Lyndhurst. The series follows them carrying their light machine guns, setting them up for firing practice. The photos also show how they can be set up in the back of trucks and be used for light anti-aircraft defence work. In one of the photos you can see the trucks driving towards Lyndhurst and the war memorial at Bolton’s Bench.

On the tail flaps of the Bedford 15cwt trucks you can see a Viking longboat badge (left). This is a Tac-Sign used to identify different units. The Viking longboat Tac-Sign refers to the 5th Corps HQ.

All Photos are credit: Imperial War Museum for Non-Commercial Use (Licence)

43rd Battalion, Royal Tank Regiment on exercise in the New Forest

Rare colour photos taken of A and B squadron from the 43rd Battalion, Royal Tank Regiment, 33rd Brigade undertaking a training exercise in Churchill Tanks on the New Forest around Wilverley Plain and Long Slade Bottom. After discussing the operation on the tank turret the squadron leader gives instructions to the tank commanders and they move out across the New Forest heath land to complete the exercise with some live firing.

We now know more information about this event following research in the War Diaries held in the National Archives. Reports on the days parading can be found in 3 different diary entries with differing levels of information.

War Diary Entry for the 43rd Battalion Royal Tank Regiment
13th August 1942 – 33 Tank Brigade paraded at full strength in battalion ‘Leagers’ for the benefit of 9th Infantry Brigade

War Diary Entry for the HQ 33rd Army Tank Brigade
13th August 1942 – Brigade parades at Long Slade Bottom in triangular Leager formations – very effective indeed and excellent demonstration is given to divisional spectators. The Tks merge in very well to rough heathland. Brigadier addresses spectators on loud speaker equipment.

War Diary Entry for the HQ 9th Infantry Brigade
13th August 1942 – Parade of tanks by 33rd Army Tank Brigade held at Long Slade Barrow 11:30hrs

All Photos are credit: Imperial War Museum for Non-Commercial Use (Licence)

There are also additional sets of photos and a British Pathe Video of Churchill Tanks in the New Forest:

Black and white photographs: Churchill Tanks of 33rd Army Tank Brigade manoeuvre en masse.

Series of photographs showing a standard day of operations for the 33rd Army Tank Brigade carrying out ordnance, tank recovery and repair operations at Burley: Tank recovery and repair operations by 33rd Army Tank Brigade at Burley.

British Pathe Video from 1942

A Community Archaeology Resource Review

One of the flints found during 2018 excavation. Credit NFNPA

Across the New Forest like the UK, many volunteers and community groups undertake their own archaeological research and fieldwork.
Last year, the Authority commissioned Oxford Archaeology to identify and review guidance resources readily accessible to volunteers and community groups undertaking their own archaeological investigations. The research was undertaken as part of the Our Past, Our Future Landscape Partnership Scheme supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund (now the National Lottery Heritage Fund). The results of the research are now released and published online.

The results demonstrate that there is a demand for simple ‘how-to’ guides with signposting to more detailed information produced by well-recognised and easily identifiable sources. The extent of knowledge exchange and local adaption of guidance resources has probably been underestimated, and indicates that the professional archaeological sector needs to do more to understand and aid the transfer of accurate, reliable and user-friendly information amongst community volunteer archaeologists.

Over three hundred and fifty archaeological guidance resources have been identified indicating that there is already a large amount of material readily available on a wide range of topics. However, there are some notable gaps in guidance materials, particularly on running projects and reporting and disseminating the results. There is an issue of knowing what has already been produced and searching for it. There are also some notable gaps in guidance materials, particularly on running projects and reporting and disseminating the results.

Online, there is a tendency not to refer to specific sources of guidance but to use Internet search engines to find information, although it should not be presumed that use of social media platforms and other online services is universal. Many community volunteer archaeologists still like to have written notes to accompany electronic media such as videos, and want to refer to hard copies of information when collecting data or taking a break from using screens.

There has been limited evaluation of the extent, use and impact of these resources prior to this study. This review has not involved ranking or critiquing existing guidance but getting an understanding of what exists, what is accessible and what volunteers and community groups engage with. It is hoped that this review will be of interest to the wider archaeological sector and help to inform the creation of new resources in the future.

The full report and supplementary documents can be downloaded from OA’s online library here: https://library.thehumanjourney.net/4636/

For more information about the resource review please contact: community@oxfordarch.co.uk or 01223 850515

A day trip to the beach at Milford on Sea

A set of photos taken by 22/318 Staff Nurse Elfrida Anne Parkinson depict a day visit of convalescing New Zealand soldiers based at No1 New Zealand General Hospital in Brockenhurst to the beach at Milford on Sea for a day out and picnic.

In 1916, the temporary military hospital established in Brockenhurst in 1914 to treat Indian service personnel who had been injured while serving in France, was taken over by the New Zealand authorities and became No 1 New Zealand General Hospital.   It was one of three general hospitals in the UK which were staffed and operated by the New Zealand Medical Corps to care for wounded members of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force.

The hospital consisted of a main tented and hutted section, known as “Tin Town” located at what is now Tile Barn Outdoor Centre, together with minor medical sections at Balmer Lawns and Forest Park and several auxiliary hospitals in and around Brockenhurst.

It appears that Elfrida Anne Parkinson was based at Balmer Lawn as this is where most of her photos were taken.

There are another set of photos from a day trip and picnic to the Rufus Stone: here

You can find out more about the New Zealand General Hospital and its satellite sites: here

A New Forest Spitfire

This picture shows James Shaw sitting in a Vickers Supermarine Spitfire at Eastleigh Airport.

The Spitfire is called the New Forest.

Throughout the Second World War, the British people were encouraged to save money and invest it in the war effort. National Savings campaigns on service themes were organised each year and local newspapers were full of advertising for them and their associated publicity events.

Special drives with various local activities were organised annually in the war years starting with the National Savings Week of June 1940 and followed by War Weapons Week, Warships Week, Wings for Victory, Salute the Soldier and Thanksgiving Week in subsequent years.

The Spitfire funds of 1940 represented tangible evidence for the support of the RAF by the British public. At that time enemy aircraft ranged over the skies of Southern Britain and with RAF planes flying from many Hampshire airfields, many local residents would have been familiar with the efforts of the young allied pilots. The bombing of Southampton, Portsmouth and many other places, combined with the crashes of numerous hostile aircraft, would have re-inforced the desirability of more fighters.

The idea of presenting planes had begun in the First World War and in the Summer of 1940 every other Spitfire off the production line had been donated. A nominal sum of £5,000 had been quoted as the cost of a Spitfire and in addition to individuals who provided a plane, local funds were started up all over the country and indeed the Commonwealth. However presenting an aircraft was in fact a nominal term as no additional planes were built. It was not possible to order individual aircraft as the factories were already in full production on Government contracts.

In Hampshire the campaign seems to have been launched following a letter from Dr HM King, a teacher at Taunton’s School in Southampton (later an MP and Speaker of the House of Commons), in the Hampshire Chronicle on 27 July 1940. The next edition of the weekly paper included an appeal to farmers, farm workers and everyone interested in the countryside for a Hampshire Agricultural Fighter Plane.

On 10 August the Mayor of Winchester opened an appeal for Winchester and District. Dr King wrote again the following week reporting that “a countywide campaign was springing up in Hampshire to raise Spitfires for the nation. Portsmouth was first in the field with two, Gosport, New Forest and Winchester are raising one (Is this the one in the picture?), Bournemouth and Southampton were stirring and Eastleigh would shortly be at work”.

There was even a campaign by a Cedarwood Pug-owning resident of Itchen Abbas who started an “Our dogs Dog Fighter Fund” to present a Spitfire from the dogs of England!

Do you have any more information about the ‘New Forest’ Spitfire or other local fundraising campaigns then please share them on this portal.

R J Mitchell’s Spitfire is the iconic plane of WWII that has it’s origins in the constant development work undertaken by Mitchell at Supermarine for the Schneider Trophy at Calshot between the First and Second World War.

A new look at Home Farm Hillfort

In 2018, as part of a management programme undertaken by the New Forest National Park Authority and Forestry England, a team of archaeologists undertook a series of systematic geophysical surveys, exploratory excavations and restoration works across Home Farm Iron Age Hillfort.

You can read more about the background to the scheduled monument here: Hillfort 400m south of Home Farm – Scheduled Monument #1017019

The work was undertaken with the aim to improve our knowledge of the site as well as the condition of the scheduled monument and help remove it off the Monuments at Risk Register. The results of the work have proven rather interesting; they have dramatically improved our understating of this prehistoric landscape and challenged the perceived interpretation of the “Iron Age” site by revealing a much earlier, Neolithic date through carbon dating.

The reports produced for from this work can be found below:

Geophysics Results

Excavation Report

Ancient discovery begins to rewrite Forest’s history

A new website for Netley Marsh

Congratulations to the Netley Marsh Parish History Group on the launch of their new website: netleymarshparishhistorygroup.co.uk

This website seeks to add extra information and keep the history of the parish up to date. You can also find information on their meeting, events and publications. Two very good documents record the history of the parish, The Netley Marsh Parish Plan and 100 Years of Parish Life. This information, together with many previously unseen photographs, oral histories and articles written by members, has been added to the website to enable more people to discover the history of the parish.

The Netley Marsh History Group website has been made possible thanks to funding from the HLF Our Past, Our Future Project.

The Netley Marsh Parish History Group was formed in 2017 and new members and visitors are always welcome. In the early days of the group, memory recording sessions were held, where local people recalled their memories on various themes – schools, shops, sports groups etc. The evening on Pubs was particularly fruitful with many happy memories recalled! Local speakers gave talks on many topics, including the Gamekeeper Pub and the Light family, the history of the Scout Group, the Women’s Institute and the founding and work of Tools for Self-Reliance.

Aerolite – A Royal Visit in 1944

Aerolite was the codename given to the visit on May 24th 1944 when King George VI came to review the assembled Eastern Task Force invasion fleet.

The following is a transcription from the diary of King George VI – Wednesday May 24th 1944

Wednesday May 24th

I motored to Exbury, which is now a naval shore base, H.M.S.”Mastodon”, where landing craft crews are trained. I spent the day with the Eastern Task Force to see the officers & men of the British Naval Assault Forces in Overlord. I was met by Admiral Sir B. Ramsay, Allied Naval Commander Expeditionary Force, Rear Admiral, Sir P. Vian, Naval Commander Eastern Task Force & others. We went by barge, the Royal Yacht barge, down the Beaulieu River out into the Solent passing landing craft. I went on board the “Bulolo” Command Ship, Force “G”, Commander Douglas-Pennant, the “Largs” Command Ship, Force “S”, Rear Admiral A.G. Talbot and I saw Force “J” ashore at the Royal Yacht Squadron, Cowes, Commodore Oliver. From here I saw all the landing craft in Portsmouth Harbour & lunched on board the cruiser “Scylla”, Rear Admiral Vian’s flagship. I went in a Naval Rescue Motor Launch to Southampton Water & the Hamble River passed all the landing craft there. I must have seen over 300 landing crafts and other ships attached in the command. I spent a most interesting day. I got back to Wilton at 6:30 pm.

(This transcription has been made with the permission of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. No unauthorised reproduction is permitted)

He was to arrive at H.M.S. Mastodon at 9.30 a.m. where Captain Swinley and the ship’s company would provide the guard of honour. He would then proceed to Gilbury and board the Royal Barge.

This gave rise to great excitement amongst the Wrens, however the Captain (a misogynist of note!) confined them to the upstairs rooms of the House, only allowing the male ratings to be inspected on the lawn in front of the House. Others remember that some of the WRENs were allowed to stand in the Ha-ha, so only a line of hats were visible for inspection. They also sneaked into the shrubberies and watched from there.

Being May, of course the Gardens were in full flower, so Swinley spent days learning all about the various flowers in anticipation of having to show the Monarch around. The King, however, had other ideas, having been a regular visitor to Exbury prior to the War. “No” he told Swinley politely, he knew his own way round and would relish a few moments of tranquillity before having to review his fleet.

Down at the Gilbury jetty there was much excitement amongst the boats crews, one crew, expecting to be inspected, found that their feet had been glued to the decks by sticky tar. Luckily the King had spent longer than the 15 minutes allotted him in the Gardens and they were saved the embarrassment of not being able to come smartly to attention.

He boarded the C.I.C. Portsmouth’s barge, known as ‘The Green Parrot’ and slowly and quietly went down the Beaulieu River. All the C.O.’s saluted in turn. It was a very quiet and sombre occasion.

In the Solent he transferred to a high speed Motor Launch and with his party of Admirals sped off. The return to the barge presented the King with a moment of humour. Their craft approached at high speed, creating quite a wave. The poor WREN on the bow of the barge had enormous difficulty in maintaining her dignity and not falling into the sea. The King and the Admirals watched this balancing act with much mirth, commenting to the effect that WRENs look better in skirts.

Account supplied by Nicholas de Rothschild of Exbury Estate – 17 September 2012

There is a short section of archive footage filmed at Wilton House, Wiltshire on the 25 May 1944 held by criticalpast.com.  It shows Allied officers attending a conference in Wilton House shortly before D-Day landings during World War II. Group of U.S. and British officers attend a conference at Southern Command (Wilton House). Includes British General Miller at his desk.

See the footage (No sound) here.

(Please note that this is a third part site and we are not respectable for it content.)

You can find out more about the New Forest’s vital role in D-Day from Mulberry Harbour, to holding camps, road widening, advanced landing grounds, PLUTO and Embarkation by visiting our main page on D-Day in the New Forest.