Project Progress: Spring 2024

Welcome to ‘Mapping the March’! This is our first blog post so we thought that we would give an update on some of the things that we’ve been up to over the past couple of months.

Drawing parish and township boundaries

Through January and February, Rachael mapped the parish and township boundaries of the historic county of Denbighshire, while Jon worked on Caernarfonshire and Anglesey. Using the original 6″ OS mapping from the early twentieth century, coupled with modern OS mapping data, these boundaries will be the foundation of creating digital maps of the lordships located within the Welsh Marches.

Township boundaries are a crucial element to the map, as they formed the basis of the administrative units by which much of Wales was governed. We will join together relevant townships and parishes to create the boundaries of the lordships.  This will create the first ever set of digital maps of the lordships and will go into unprecedented detail.

These maps will be available for public use, either to interact with on our website, or to use for individual research. Once we have digital layers for the entirety of the Welsh Marches from the original OS maps, we will work backwards in time to determine where exactly boundaries lay in the Middle Ages, using both maps and documentary sources.

Parish and Township boundaries of the historic counties of Anglesey, Caernarfonshire, and Denbighshire 

Archival Research

A portion of the archival research we have been undertaking relates to the digital boundaries. One aim is to determine which areas lay within each lordship at fifty-year intervals during the scope of our project (1250-1550). Was it always consistent, or did certain lands move between lordships? One of the ways we are tracking this is through records that relate to the administration of the lordship, such as rental rolls and stewards’ accounts, to see what locations are included.

Rachael went to The National Archives in February to start this research for the northern lordships of Bromfield and Yale, Chirk, and Denbigh. The image below is an example of a minister’s account for Bromfield and Yale. We are also investigating how the inhabitants of the Marches understood and spoke about the boundaries of lordships – more on that soon!

Account of the lordship of Bromfield and Yale. The National Archives (TNA): SC6/HENVIII/4996

Another aim of our project is to connect people to the places within the Welsh Marches that they were associated with, in various forms – whether they were resident, held an office, visited, or were connected with a manuscript produced or circulated there. One of the manuscripts Rachael looked at in The National Archives was a survey of the lordship of Bromfield and Yale, which lays out hundreds of individuals resident within the lordship. This survey of the lordship was organised by townships, which will allow us to digitally connect individuals to the townships that Rachael and Jon have mapped. Below is an image of one folio for the township of Marford and Hosseley. The individuals and their locations are being entered into our database which we will then connect with the maps.

Extent of the lordship of Bromfield and Yale. TNA: LR2/251

Watch this space for case studies, information on the literary texts and manuscripts of the Marches, and further progress reports!