There are many terms which one comes across in studying local history, archaeology and related disciplines, which are no longer, or perhaps never have been in everyday use. Over the years I have come to assimilate this specialised vocabulary and use it freely in my texts. However, I do appreciate that someone coming to the subject for the first time may not fully understand all the terms used. I have therefore, drawn up a list of abbreviations and terms used throughout the Leverstock Green Chronicle below, together with their meanings.
Inevitably I may have omitted some terms and abbreviations, if that is the case and you wish further words to be added to this glossary, please contact me.
DBC- Dacorum Borough Council HALS- Hertfordshire Archive and Local Studies. Used to be the Hertfordshire County Record Office, and Local Studies Library respectively, now combined at county Hall Hertford.
(If followed by a set of reference numbers and/or letters this refers to the reference number of a specific document held at HALS.)
LGVA - Leverstock Green Village Association
SMR - Sites and Monument Record. This is the record of all the known archaeological sites, finds, earthworks and so on. Each county has one, usually located in the planning department and maintained by the county archaeologist. Hertfordshire SMR used to be known as the CAR, the County Archaeological Record. Hertfordshire County Archaeologist is Stewart Bryant. There is also an Archaeological Records Officer, Allison Tinniswood, based at County Hall in the same department.
VCH - Victoria County History
AISLED HALL - A building which, as well as the main part of the structure, there are spaces along the sides with the roof above usually supported on pillars. Sometimes the aisles, found in many medieval parish churches, were the result of expanding the original building by pinching holes through the side walls but leaving pillars to remain the remaining part of the walls above. This type of design was common in large medieval secular domestic buildings, and usually denotes that it was of high status as it was both a fashion statement and related to wealth.
ANGLO-SAXON - See Saxon
BRONZE AGE - The period from c. 2000 to c. 700 B.C. when metal first began to be used.
BRONZE HOARD- A group or cluster of bronze objects found together in an archaeological dig or at an archaeological site. In the case of the Bronze Hoard at Westwick Row, Leverstock Green this hoard consisted of two Bronze socketed axe-heads (otherwise known as Celts) and a series of lumps of metal fused together. They probably denoted the site where a Bronze-age metal worker was smelting the Bronze and manufacturing the axe-heads.
BOTHY - A separate kitchen or service building from the main dwelling, often used as accommodation for servants etc. The term is also used in Scotland to denote a small cottage.
CROPMARKS- These are light and dark marks visible in growing and ripening crops, which reflect the differences in the subsoil beneath. They can often denote hidden archaeological structures.
CONURBATION - A built -up area which has spread to engulf neighbouring towns and villages.
COPYHOLD TENURE – A form of customary tenure by which a tenant held a copy of the entry in the rolls of the manorial court baron which recorded his or her possession of a holding on agreed terms. It was developed as part of the feudal system and in the early Middle ages the tenant performed services for the Lord of the Manor, and could be called upon to fight for him. But by the 16th century the services had been converted to monetary payments and instead the landowner (or copyholder) paid a large sum to the Lord of the Manor when they bought or inherited the property (a fine), and additionally paid a small annual “rent” to the Lord of the Manor. Copyhold was eventually abolished in 1922. It is possible to trace through the Manorial Court Rolls (or records) to find details of the families who held various properties – often over several generations, and a great deal can be learnt about the families concerned. Within Leverstock Green the Manorial Courts were Gorhambury, Hemel Hempstead and Abbots Langley.
COURT BARON – This was the manorial court which dealt with the transfer of copyhold land upon inheritance or sale, and which determined the customs of the manor, and enforced payments. Gorhambury’s Court Baron was still held regularly ion the 20th century.
DENDROCHRONOLOGY- A way of absolutely dating material from archaeological sites where wood has survived. It is based on the idea that the growth rings of trees vary from year to year according to weather conditions, and that patterns of greater or lesser growth can be compared from tree to tree from area to area. By working backwards from surviving trees, from timbers in old houses etc. A “master chronology” can be set up. Any timber discovered in buildings or waterlogged deposits can then be compared with the growth rings already known. As most wood in the past seems to have been worked “green”, such a date will be very close to that of the construction of the feature under investigation. So far we have a master chronology for oak in this country.
FREEHOLD – since the abolition of copyhold in 1922, to own property Freehold has meant to hold it completely outright. Prior to that and especially in medieval times, it meant that the land was held free of any manorial customs such as service or payment; and men aged between 21 and 70 who were freeholders could vote at local and parliamentary elections. They were also eligible for jury service.
GENEALOGY – The study of, or an account of a person’s descent from an ancestor or ancestors, by enumeration of the intermediate people. Genealogy or the study of family history has become increasingly popular over recent years, and many people try and trace their family trees. The advent of the internet has made genealogical studies much easier and there are many websites dedicated to this subject and to the various familes which have been studied. In Hertfordshire the two most useful contacts for genealogists other than the Family History Centre at HALS are: http://www.hertfordshire-genealogy.co.uk/ and http://www.hertsfhs.org.uk/
GEOPHYSICS – A geological investigation using the laws of physics. See geophysical survey, Magnetometry, resistivity and ground penetrating radar.
GEOPHYSICAL SURVEY – A geophysical survey allows one to see what is underneath the ground, even if nothing is visible on the surface. This has been a wonderful breakthrough in archaeology as it enables the archaeologist to get some idea of what MAY be underground without digging, and it also enables the archaeologist to target where he or she should dig more productively. As with all modern technology, the accuracy and amount of detail which can be obtained is continually improving over time. There are three main methods of investigation used: Magnetometry, Resistivity, and Ground Penetrating Radar.
GROUND PENETRATING RADAR- Ground Penetrating radar ( GPR) works by sending radar waves into the ground and measuring th amount of time it takes for the waves to bounce back. How fast they bounce back depends on the material they are travelling though. They travel faster still through air – so can also pick up voids. It is largely useful where the features are likely to be more than 1. ½ metres below the surface and where the other methods don’t work very well.
HERIOT/HERRIOT - The obligation, derived from Saxon times, of an heir to return to the lord the military apparel of a deceased tenant, on the premise that it was originally supplied by the lord. The apparel, depending on the status of the tenant, could include a horse, harness and weapons. This obligation applied to both freemen and villeins but in later periods tended to be related to copyhold tenures only. About the time of the Norman conquest the custom was being superseded by the gift of the best beast by the heir and later became a money payment. instead, in effect, a fee to enter the land. It was abolished in 1922
HUNDRED - An administrative division of a shire, probably established in the 10th century. In the last twenty years many of the names of the old hundreds were resurrected and given to modern Boroughs etc. closely associated with the original hundred. e.g. Dacorum.
INTERRUPTED ROW - This is a long linear settlement, similar in some respects to the nucleated “row” type village, but where the houses tend to be scattered along the row in a random manner. They rarely link up to form nucleated settlements. The form has been found spread widely from South Wales to East Anglia, and are interpreted as “woodland landscapes” as opposed to those associated with the regular “classic” open field system we learnt about in history lessons at school. At Westwick Row the “woodland” nature of the landscape seems to have long vanished, leaving only field names and a dispersed pattern of settlement as evidence.
IRON AGE- The period c. 700 B.C. To AD 43 - following the Bronze Age and before the Roman period
KELLY’S DIRECTORIES - An important series of local directories drawn up between 1799-1939 in county volumes, and listing places usually on a parochial basis.
LORD OF THE MANOR – Manors varied considerably in their size, and their importance declined considerably over the centuries. They were originally part of the Feudal system in medieval times, and the Lord of the Manor originally literally had the power of life and death over many of the inhabitants of the manor. Those on the manor owed their Lord allegiance, could be called upon to fight for him at need and to work some of the land. The Lord of the Manor could be a Baron, a titled landowner or just a well-to-do-local farmer or businessmen. As the feudal system gradually broke down, although the Manors survived and with them their lords, the service element was changed for payment, and ultimately the manorial system was the way in which property changed hands. The Lord of the Manor owned some of the land on his manor outright - i.e. he had the freehold to the land; but the vast majority of the land was held copyhold. Whether freehold or copyhold, owners of the land had to pay a small fee or fine to the Lord of the manor to have their property registered as theirs (i.e.. upon admittance); the copyhold owners of the property also had to pay an annual quit rent to the Lord of the manor for the privilege of being there. It was through these monetary payments that the Great Landowners of the 17th & 18th century made their income. All the transactions were recorded in the Manorial Court Rolls, and a Courts Baron (that is the court where all this was transacted and recorded) was held every quarter by the late nineteenth century, but in early times had tended to be more regular on a three week basis. Also in early medieval times it was to the Courts Baron that locals brought legal claims against their neighbours – particularly relating to boundaries – top settle.
LIBERTY (of ST. ALBANS) - A Liberty was a group of manors, the lord of which held certain privileges over the Crown. Most often it was an area under the jurisdiction of a large monastic or ecclesiastical foundation such as York or St. Albans. Effectively this meant that the Abbot or the Archbishop (whoever was the Lord of the Manor) had absolute rule over his Liberty, and not even the King could intervene. In 1163 - Henry II declared the Liberty of St. Albans exempt from Episcopal visitation and all forms of Episcopal control. (St. Albans did not become a diocese until 1850) . This effectively made the Abbot of St. Albans absolute ruler of 26 parishes including St. Michaels, and Abbots Langley contained within it.)
LISTED BUILDINGS- Buildings and structures such as bridges, which have been placed on a statutory list and so are protected by the various planning and conservation Acts because they have been assessed as being of architectural and/or historical importance. Grade II buildings are the normal vernacular structures such as cottages and farmhouses, Grade II* buildings have particularly good interiors, and Grade I include some of the most magnificent buildings and national monuments in the country, e.g. Stonehenge, Royal Albert Hall.
MAGNETOMETARY – Magnetometry is a discipline within geophysics which measures differences in the magnetism of the ground just below the surface. It picks up features like hearths and pottery kilns, and anything built with bricks ( made with fired clay). It is also excellent at finding buried ditches because topsoil is more magnetic than subsoils. Objects made with iron can also be pinpointed as they cause a sharp spike on the magnetometry graph.
MEDIEVAL/MIDDLE AGES - Usually interpreted as the period between the Norman conquest in 1066 and the accession of the Tudors in 1485. However it has become common usage in recent times to refer to the medieval period as the 1000 years from the end of the Roman occupation (5th century AD) to the time of the dissolution of the monasteries in 1530-40 AD.
NORMAN - The term usually applies to the period between the invasion by William the Conqueror in 1066 and 1154 and the accession of Henry II the first Plantagenet King of England. Anything pertaining to that period is deemed Norman.
OPPIDUM - A township or area of settlement - usually referring to such settlement during the Iron-Age.
ORDNANCE SURVEY - The national mapping agency of Great Britain. Maps are currently produced in metric to a scale of 1:50,000 and 1:25,000 for publication to the general public. The survey (effectively a government department) was established in 1791 to map Great Britain at a scale of 1 inch to 1 mile. Between 1801 and 1873, what are known as the First Edition O.S. And Old Series O.S. Maps were produced in 110 sheets. The New series began in 1840 but publication didn’t start until 1870 and included 1” maps , and 6” and 25” plans.
O.S. - See Ordnance Survey
PIGHTLE – A small field or meadow – often near to the house.
POST MEDIEVAL - A term used to denote any archaeological artefacts etc. Dating from about 1500 AD to the present.
QUIT RENT – A small fixed annual rent whose payment released a tenant from manorial service. These payments were abolished in 1922.
RESISTIVITY – Resistivity is a discipline within geophysics. It is slowerthan magnetometry, but is better at picking up buried arachaelogical features like walls. A machine sends an electrical current through the ground from one probe to another andhte resistance of the current is measured. Dry material such as walls willl have a high resistance, whereas buried pits or ditches full of moist topsoil give very little resistance.
ROMAN - A term used to denote buildings, roads, artefacts etc. dating from the period of the Roman occupation of Britain from 43 AD to the mid 5th century.
SAXON - Pertaining to the period from the 5th century AD to the Norman period.
TITHE MAP/SURVEY - The detailed large scale maps relating to the tithe survey of a parish undertaken about 1840 following the Tithe Commutation Act of 1836. This commuted the value of the tithe to be paid on property to a fee. Commissioners were appointed to negotiate fair land values with the inhabitants of an area. These surveys are extremely useful to historians as they have highly accurate large scale maps With each field identified by a number. The written survey which accompanies them (the Apportionment)) tells us who owned as well as occupied each individual parcel of land, along with its name and land use.
TUDOR - Pertaining to the period 1485-1603 covering the reigns of Henry VII to Elizabeth I.