Animal husbandry

The agricultural practice of breeding and raising livestock.

Apportionment Schedule


Apportionment schedules were documents that were produced alongside tithe maps.  They list landowners, tenants, size of fields, land use and amount of rent payable. 


These are mounds of usually earth that were placed over graves usually dating from the prehistoric period although there are examples from Romano-British and early Anglo-Saxon periods.  The barrow was often surrounded by a ditch (see ring-ditch).


An Anglo-Saxon term for a defended site, such as a hill fort or a town.


Cartography or mapmaking is the study and practice of making maps or globes.

Census Returns

These are the sheets that contain the information about each household.  Sheets generally listed a number of dwellings including the names of the inhabitants, their ages, relationships, occupations and places of birth. 

Census Summaries

These give statistics on all the main topics covered by the census for a particular area (e.g. age and sex distributions, population figures, occupations). They are available for censuses from 1801-2001.


These were legal documents used particularly for the land grants and transactions of the Anglo-Saxon period, whereby the king granted areas of land to monasteries and individuals.  Such charters often record the boundaries of the land, making them some of the most important records for place names and details of the Anglo-Saxon countryside.

Crop Marks

These are archaeological features that can be seen due to the differences in the growth and colour of a crop caused by underlying features (e.g. buried ditches, pits and walls).  They show up on aerial photographs, although weather conditions, the time of year and other factors can affect whether crop marks are visible on photographs.



Earthworks can take the form of banks, ditches and mounds. They are usually created for a specific purpose. A bank, for example, might be the remains of a boundary between two or more fields. Some Earthworks may be all that remains of a collapsed building, for example, the grassed-over remains of building foundations or the platforms upon which timber buildings were constructed.

In the winter, when the sun is lower in the sky than during the other seasons, Earthworks have larger shadows. From the air, archaeologists are able to see the patterns of the Earthworks more easily. Earthworks can sometimes be confusing when viewed at ground level, but from above, the general plan is much clearer.

Archaeologists often carry out an aerial survey or an earthwork survey to help them understand the lumps and bumps they can see on the ground.


This term refers to anything associated with Christian Church, especially liturgy, buildings, vestments, furnishings and governance.

Electoral Registers

These are lists of electors registered for Parliamentary elections, which have been produced annually since 1832. 


Archaeologically speaking, an enclosure is a bank and ditch surrounding an area of land.  Many of the sites that archaeologists work with are not easily seen except for the enclosures, which now remain as earthworks or cropmarks

Enclosure (or Inclosure)


'Enclosure' was the conversion of open fields or previously unproductive land (wastes and commons) to individual private plots of land. Landowners and some non-landowning commoners (those who lost their communal right to use the land for pasture, fuel, building materials etc.) were provided with plots of land referred to as 'allotments'. Enclosure was managed at a local level and records produced during an enclosure can provide a snapshot of an individual parish or manor.  The process of enclosure commenced in the later medieval period.  From the middle of the 18th century enclosure often took place under individual acts of parliament. Maps were one of the documents produced as part of this process.  They show boundaries, roads, fields and buildings. Most date from 1790s-1850s


In the Church of England, a faculty is a license from the Diocesan Chancellor, issued on behalf of the bishop, to make additions or changes to church property (e.g. to move a font or to build a meeting room).  These can sometimes appear within parish records.


A farm and its associated land and buildings

Field Enclosure

This describes the process by which the medieval open field system was enclosed into smaller individual fields.  The process started in the later medieval period and continued into the 19th century.

Grid Reference

A grid reference is a standard method for identifying the location of a point on a map (see the further information sheets for guidance on grid references).

Head of Household

This is the term used for the person whose name appears first on census returns for a family or group of people living together.  Before 1850 these were the only peoples' names that appeared on census returns.

The head of household is usually the member of a household who either owns the accommodation occupied by the household or is responsible for the rent. If, however, this person is a married woman whose husband is also a member of the household, then the husband counts as the head of the household.

Historic Environment

Record (HER)

This is a record of all the historic and archaeological sites and finds within a county, generally kept on a computerised system.  The HER was formerly known as the Sites and Monuments Record (SMR).


A hundred was an administrative division used to divide counties into small areas for administrative, military and judicial purposes.  Th term originates in the Anglo-Saxon period.  Some sources use this as a means of dividing a county into area to be described (e.g. Victoria County History, William Dugdale's Antiquities of Warwickshire).


A written document that is hand written, as opposed to being printed.


A form of Roman pottery (singular - Mortarium)

Non-Conformist Churches

These are church denominations other than the Church of England (e.g. Baptist and Methodist Chapels, Quaker Meeting Houses). The term originally denotes sects which did not subscribe to the 1662 Act of Uniformity. The term is usually applied to protestant churches, although the Roman Catholic Church is technically Non-Conformist too.

Nucleated settlement

A settlement where buildings are clustered around a particular point such as a cross roads, as opposed to a dispersed settlement.

Open Fields

This was a system where several large, open fields were divided into strips.  These strips were all individually owned but all of the owners and tenants farmed them together.

Ploughed-Out Feature

This is an archaeological feature that has been removed from the surface by ploughing and is probably no longer visible.

Polite Architecture


This style of architecture characterises buildings that are built following national trends and fashions (e.g. neo-classical buildings) rather than using local styles and materials (i.e. vernacular architecture).  These may often be large public buildings or country houses; however domestic buildings can also follow these trends and fashions. 

Poor rates

A local tax for the relief of the poor

Primary Source

An original document created at or around the time an event occurred (e.g. manuscripts, photographs, drawings and maps).  Primary sources provide the ‘raw' data for researchers to interpret.

Quarter Sessions

From the 16th century until 1889 these were the main judicial and administrative bodies for England.  In 1889 their administrative function was replaced by county councils, however their judicial function remained until 1971. Quarter Sessions typically met four times a year.


The term is used to describe the pattern of ridges and troughs created in an open field by the medieval method of ploughing with an ox team. Each ridge has a distinctive reverse S-shape.

Ring Ditch

Circular ditch, often surrounding a barrow (see above).  These are usually visible as cropmarks, and in arable areas they may represent the only traces of barrows which have been ploughed away.

Secondary Source

A secondary source provides information that has already been collected and interpreted by someone else using primary sources (e.g. local history books, text and reference books, journals and information on the internet).

Sites and Monuments Record (SMR)

The old name for the Historic Environment Record.  You may find some counties still use SMR rather than HER.

Tithe Maps

These are maps that were produced in the 1840s on a parish basis recording the owner of property and rent payable.  They are accompanied by an apportionment schedule (see above).

Vernacular Architecture

This style of architecture characterises buildings that are built using local styles and materials (e.g. flint buildings in East Anglia and limestone buildings in the Cotswolds).  This are usually domestic, farm and small-scale industrial buildings, rather than large public buildings or grand residences.

Victoria County History (VCH)

The Victoria County History (VCH) was created in 1899 with the aim of producing a county-by-county history of the entire country.  They generally include a history of the county as well as entries for each parish.  The entries are organised by hundreds and each parish contains details on size, population, Domesday Book references, history, churches and other prominent buildings and any recorded charities.