Other Secondary Sources

General Texts

Mick Aston, Interpreting the Landscape, 1992 (Batsford: London)


This book provides a general introduction to conducting research into landscapes.  It demonstrates how archaeological fieldwork can be combined with local history research, to gain a wider understanding of local landscapes.  A variety of sources, including aerial photographs, maps, plans and charts, are discussed with suggestions of how they can be used in local history research.  The topics discussed include early landscapes, boundaries, deserted and surviving villages, farms and hamlets, settlement patterns, land use, field systems, and communications, namely roads, tracks and waterways.


This text provides an excellent introduction on how to conduct local landscape and historical research.  It demonstrates how a variety of sources and techniques can be used to understand local landscapes.  The book stresses the importance of not studying a site or feature in isolation and gaining an understanding of the local history and other related sites or features.

This book is a good guide to how archaeological and historical sources can be combined to gain a wider understanding of local landscapes and history, taking research beyond the simple manorial or village histories which can sometimes be the focus of local histories.  When starting any research it is useful to consult this type of general text, to gain ideas of the types of research possible and areas you may wish to concentrate on.

County Histories

William Smith's History of the County of Warwickshire, 1830


During the 19th century William Smith produced a history of the county of Warwickshire, similar to that of Dugdale.  It was published in two volumes, which contained a general history of the country, a county map, over 60 illustrations, mainly of castles and country houses, and entries for many Warwickshire towns and villages.  These entries are organised by hundreds and give short descriptions of the history and buildings within these town and villages.


This type of county history can be used to gain further background information on a particular settlement or location.  Smith's county history has a tendency to focus on the remains of large historic buildings, such as castles and country houses.  This is a weakness of these types of county history, but it makes them especially useful for studying particular buildings.  The illustrations would also be useful for this purpose. 

It must also be remembered that over time county boundaries have changed, so the histories of other counties may be relevant to some areas and vice versa.  For instance, Smith gives a detailed account of Birmingham, which at the time was in Warwickshire.

There also are a number of general histories of Warwickshire, including William Camden's Britannia published in 1610 which a section on Warwickshire and Sam Timmins' A History of Warwickshire published in 1889.

These sources give an overview of the history of the county as understood at the time they were written. Smith's county history is more detailed and better for exploring particular areas; however it does not record every settlement within Warwickshire.  Histories of the county are still being published, for instance Geoffrey Tyack's Warwickshire Country Houses provides an up-to-date history of the county's country houses, many of which are recorded in sources such as the Victoria County History and Smith's history. Terry Slater's History of Warwickshire also provides a useful overview of the county.

Local History and Archaeology Journals and Publications:

National Publications

Local History Magazine
The Local Historian: The Journal Of The British Association For Local History
Journal of Regional and Local Studies

Warwickshire Publications

Warwickshire History: Journal of the Warwickshire Local History Society
Dugdale Society publishes various volumes and occasional papers
Transactions of the Birmingham and Warwickshire Archaeological Society
Warwickshire Antiquarian Magazine (1859-1877)
West Midlands Archaeology (Council for British Archaeology)

There are publications available for specific areas of the county, such as Local Past: the Journal of the Alcester and District Local History Society.

There are also publications for specific industries, trades or groups, such as the Beer and Ragged Staff produced for the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) which sometimes contain articles on the history of brewing.

Place-name Evidence:

Place-name evidence can also be useful when examining changes in land use, as well as for charting the history of a location.  There are several general works on place-names including:

Gelling, Margaret. 1983. Place-names in the Landscape (Dent, London).

Mills, Anthony D. 2003. Dictionary of British Place-names, New edition (Oxford University Press, Oxford).

For more information on place-names in Warwickshire see:

Gover, J.E.B, Mawer, A., Houghton, F.T.S. and Stenton, F.M. 1936. Place-Names of Warwickshire (English Place-Name Society Vol.13).

Anglo-Saxon Charters:

Anglo-Saxon charters, where they exist, can be used to identify changes in the landscape.  They are particularly useful in identifying boundaries and landmarks.

Della Hooke. 1999. Warwickshire Anglo-Saxon Charter-Bounds.

H. C. Darby & I.B. Terrett. 1971. The Domesday Geography of Midland England (Cambridge University Press, London).