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Common Cause: Through Our Ancestors’ Eyes

The New Forest Trust is one of several groups providing funding towards the Through Our Ancestors’ Eyes project which will help to maintain the unique heritage of commoning in the New Forest by developing a programme of learning and discovery.

Led by the Commoners Defence Association the project is conserving and cataloguing the history of commoning, forestry and agriculture by collecting and digitising old photographs, associated oral histories and other documents from Commoners. This will ensure that unique history of the New Forest is preserved for the future.

Some of the documents and materials found by the project are available at:

Educating local and inner city children

Our funding is helping over 3,300 children from local and inner city schools learn about the culture and heritage of the New Forest, become more aware of the importance of conservation and gain new skills.

Attending the education programme at the New Forest Heritage Centre the children take part in interactive sessions including outdoor group work, visits to the Verderers Court and opportunities to explore Museum handling collections.

Christopher Tower Library

The New Forest Centre‘s library has a remarkable collection of material that is available to those interested in the written history of the New Forest. The New Forest Trust has made several donations to the Library including one to provide a fund for immediate purchase of books and papers.

This funding was needed because experience showed that too often the centre was unable to buy an important document because it took too long to raise the money required. Having a fund with immediately available finance took away the risk that such documents would be lost to their collection.

Oral History Project

The Trust helped local volunteers to make ‘oral history’ recordings of the special memories of elderly commoners, whose fascinating stories describe life in the Forest back to the 1930s. Using Heritage Lottery funding, the Trust provided the volunteers with recording equipment and training in interview techniques.

In just the last hundred years there have been huge changes to life in the Forest. There are still people who can remember how life used to be before traffic jams, telephones, televisions and many other changes that we now take for granted. The Trust has launched a dedicated website for the commoning history project:

If you’d like to find out more, or you know someone who might like to be recorded, please email



New Forest History & Archaeology Group

The Trust provided a grant to the New Forest History & Archaeology Group to fund the carbon dating of boiling mounds in the New Forest.

Boiling mounds (burnt stone mounds) are sites where stones were heated in a fire and then dropped into water to boil it. There are over 300 boiling sites in the New Forest (most are from the Bronze age (2,400BC – 700BC) and the Group has been instrumental in helping locate them.

The Group’s work not only adds to our knowledge of the Forest’s past but also enables them to provide advice on the location, to help ensure their protection.

The Group has limited resource and the Trust was pleased to make a donation to support its valuable research work in the Forest.