Mapped Histories (2016-2019)

Mapped Histories was part of the 'Peeling the Onion' Project. Its aim was to collect and interpret the names of the fields, woods and landscape features within the Rusland Horizons scheme area.

Minor place-names and field-names are a rich source for understanding landscape history at local level. Recorded on maps, sales documents and sometimes preserved in the memory of older residents, they reflect the cultural history of the landscape and how people have worked it over the centuries. These names were recognised as being a rich heritage asset which needed to be recorded and preserved. This project involved local volunteers in collecting and interpreting these names and making them available via the website's 'Explore Map' function.

Although over 2500 names were recorded and interpreted, more valuable information remains to be found- we hope to return to this project in the future. 

Read more about the Project and its publications...

The Project's aims and benefits were:

  • To support and train at least 12 local volunteers to research and document the fieldnames and minor place-names in the area, to conserve this heritage before it disappears.

  • To improve the understanding of past lives and landscapes of the Rusland Valley and Fells to inform future planning and enable people to learn about and understand the social context of places in the landscape.

So far so good...

Key Outcomes, October 2019:

  • Three publications have now come out of this fascinating and rewarding project - read more about these and the project outcomes ..

  • A group of 15 mapped history volunteers were trained to research and collate information about the names of fields, woods and landscape features in the Rusland Horizons Landscape Partnership area.

  • More than 2500 fieldnames have been discovered, captured, interpreted and uploaded onto the database for viewing via the Rusland Horizons website - go to 'Explore Map' to view.

  • An event was held to celebrate the project and view fieldnames now live on the website.

  • The volunteers ran a training day on behalf of Friends of the Lake District for outdoor leaders to learn about fieldnames and landscape heritage.

  • Three books have been published from the project: 

  • 'Lake District Fieldnames: A Guide for Local Historians' by Professor Angus J L Winchester.
  • Feather Bed & Shive of Cheese’ by Sophia Martin, Liz Kingston and Pat Jones sets maps and interpretations of all 500 fieldnames of this area within the context of settlement and family history.
  • 'What's in a Name? Re-discovering the Field-names of the Rusland Valley and Fells' by the Mapped History volunteers (September 2019. Email: for information)

  • More data is being gathered, interpreted and verified as further information is discovered from archives, attics and landowners.

Did you know?

Many of the fieldnames and place names are derived from Old Norse, for example: Haverthwaite is the name the Norse men gave to the clearing where they grew oats ('thwaite' means clearing).


The Challenge

There was a strong desire for this project from the local community. The aim was to transform the history of field-names and place names which are stored up in local memory and archives into an accessible and real resource which in order to create a strong sense of the project area. This would give a unique insight into how the landscape has been managed traditionally. It is hoped that this information will help feed into future landscape management plans.

Our Approach

With our volunteers the aim was to record and map as many field-names, woodland names and minor place-names as can be recaptured from cartographic evidence (dating from 17th to 20th centuries) and by talking to local people.

© Rusland Horizons 2017 - 2024. All rights reserved.
Rusland Horizons was a Landscape Partnership funded by the National Heritage Lottery Fund until July 2019. It is now being delivered by The Rusland Horizons Trust Limited. Company No. 2133450; Charity No. 519410; Registered Office: Bleacott Farm, Witherslack, Grange-over-Sands, Cumbria LA11 6RZ.