In 2002 the Trust, with funding from the Heritage Lottery, began managing an initial project which created unique digital mapping of the Rockingham Forest's medieval open field landscape and the later post medieval enclosed landscape. The 19th century Ordnance Survey maps were used to reveal the next stage in the process of landscape change. The project focussed on a distinct point for each of the three key phases: the height of medieval open field expansion, circa 1300; the move from ancient enclosure towards enclosure for mixed farming around the beginning of the 18th century; and thirdly the completion of this enclosure for agricultural improvement in the mid 19th century.
The Project mapped the historic landscape of 221 square miles, including most of the medieval royal forest of Rockingham, and encompassing almost all the ancient woodland that remains today. The data was mapped from archaeological features recorded from fieldwork in addition to aerial photographs and historic maps.
Between 2006-2009, again with Heritage Lottery funding, the full results of the earlier mapping, together with supporting information, were used to produce the online Heritage Resource Centre and to publish 'An Atlas of Rockingham Forest' with the Northamptonshire Record Society. The content includes all the digital mapping prepared in the project, 1880s mapping, background text for each individual settlement and a few images of the historic maps that were used in research.
This work was undertaken not simply because it would reveal an interesting story. The information is vital for the effective management of that landscape - in order to conserve local distinctiveness it is necessary to understand what created that unique character in the first place.
A wide range of people have provided advice and assistance during the project. We would like to than in particular the staff of the Northamptonshire Record Office and The National Archives; various owners who provided access to their collections of historic maps including Boughton Estates, Burghley Estates, Mr M. Hipwell, Mr D. T. Pain, Major J. V. A. Watts Russell. Also Gill Johnston for providing transcripts of the Southwick maps and Paul Martin for use of his archaeological site data. Finally we would like to thank the many landowners and occupiers who have given permission for field survey on their land.
In compiling the Atlas maps we have complemented our own primary research with information drawn from the work of a wide range of archaeologists and historians too numerous to mention. Of particular importance have been the earthwork surveys published by the Royal Commission on Historical Monuments for England, and the digital mapping of aerial photographic evidence produced for Northamptonshire as part of English Heritage's National Mapping Programme. In illustrating the web pages we have been assisted by Northamptonshire County Council who through the Northamptonshire Record Office and the Sites and Monuments Record have made availabe a range of historic maps and archaeological aerial photographs from their collections, many of which have never previously been published. If we have inadvertently failed to acknowledge the work of others then we would be grateful for this to be pointed out so that due acknowledgement can be made.