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Building Commons Knowledge

Project: Funded ProjectResearch

1/07/1231/08/13

This project arose out of the AHRC-funded ‘Contested Common Land’ project, undertaken in a collaboration between Newcastle Law School and Lancaster University History Department between 2007 and 2010. The current project, also funded by AHRC, runs until June 2013 and is a partnership between the two universities and the Foundation for Common Land and The National Trust. It aims to create an online ‘Commons Knowledge Resource Bank’, containing both a comprehensive database of research resources on common land and new material on the history of commons in England and Wales. During the previous project it became clear that there is a lack of knowledge about how common land was used and governed across much of the 20th century. Local communities – especially the older generation of commoners – hold a substantial body of memory for this period in the history of commons. Gathering local evidence about customary practices and uses of common land is a central aim of this project and will supply this deficiency. The project aims to provide free advice and resources, and to train commoners and others, particularly local historians, to capture the unwritten history of the commons in the 20th century by collecting oral testimony and relevant documentary evidence from members of their local communities. We are encouraging people to begin new common land history projects in their area. Research outputs and findings submitted back to our project will be archived in the Commons Knowledge Resource Bank as ‘Commons Stories’, helping to preserve local memory, and making the oral history of the commons available to community groups, researchers, and stakeholders for the first time, thereby creating a valuable research and cultural resource.