Outcomes from the Neighbourhood Plan Heritage Report

Written by Robert Bennett:

The Heritage subgroup of the Neighbourhood Plan met for more than 2 years, reviewing a wide range of material and collatinghistorical and archaeological evidence within and adjacent to the settlement area. 

Whilst the protection of the Heritage that we do have, and the broadening of our understanding of what that Heritage implies (its value) was a priority for the Heritage group, there is further and really exciting potential to the work we have begun. This is the ‘what happens next’ part of the project.

Engagement with Heritage can build a sense of community where knowledge and activities are shared amongst thatcommunity, this is our ‘Sense of Place’. 

This relies on the careful dissemination of information in a way that allows engagement and reflection. Equally new skills can be developed by those who do engage, for instance, and at the most simple level, where information has been made available on the Village Facebook page, community members have asked how they can access LIDAR imagery, the Heritage Gateway, or the early maps on the National Library of Scotland website.

In all cases this information was made available with an offer of further help and support if needed.

Beyond engaging our community on the internet there is a massive potential and interest in ‘on the ground’ activities. Whilst community engagement in field-walking or test pittingmight help settle questions such as “Where were the earliest settlements?” or “What is the date of the linear settlement along the High Street?” there are also tangible benefits for those who participate.

They can gain new skills and understanding, they become empowered within the place where they live.

It must be acknowledged that almost all of the working group areas have this potential, it is the point where showing you care about your community feeds directly back to the participant in terms of their worth.

It is the point where the ‘they’ of expertise joins the ‘we’ of community in interpreting and understanding the past.

We are currently in a dissemination phase to our work. A series of posts have been made to the village Facebook page that covers both the distant and recent past. These have included explanations of field names (Osiers and Slap Ladle), changes to roads, the Mesolithic finds made in digs in the settlement areas, the Stanstead Abbotts residents who were listed in the Ware Poor House census, the Anglo-Saxon origin of St James, the changing layout of the Red Lion and the Anglo-Saxon monastic burial ground at nearby Nazingbury.

In all cases we have tried to keep the information up to date and with simple citations where the community can read more.

The ability of the group to move into a more pro-active phase would rely on some key factors including: sufficient levels of interest from community members (which is already indicated), access to funding to meet the requirements of any project, access to expertise to help us realistically plan for a programme, train participants, review outcomes and help us to disseminate findings in a meaningful way.

If anyone is interested in getting involved, contact us via the Neighbourhood Plan website https://www.stansteadabbottsneighbourhoodplan.uk/ or our Facebook page.

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