An Overview of Lichfield

Gareth Thomas, from Lichfield District Council, has very kindly sent me some aerial photographs of Lichfield. Taken in 1963 and 1971, they provide a record of how the  city has developed and grown in the last 50 or so years (a quick look at the population figures shows that in 1961 the population was 14,090, growing to 22,660. In 2008 it was 30,583) (1)

Lichfield 10th June 1963

Lichfield 8th September 1971

Another aerial view of Lichfield taken 8th September 1971

One of the things I like about aerial photography is that it gives you a different perspective on places. A good example of this are the earthworks off Abnalls Lane, thought to be the remains of a medieval moated manor house, that I’ve mentioned before. At ground level you might well walk past, unaware of its existence. Look at it from above however, and you get a whole different impression of the site. What’s exciting for me (and yes, maybe I do need to get out more!), is that the aerial photograph that Gareth has sent seem to show more of the structure than can be seen on today’s aerial photos. To my untrained eye, back in the 1960s, it looks like the moat had some sort of channel running from it, and branching off into two.  Looking at the recent google earth maps, this part of the feature seems to have disappeared.

Crop of aerial photo taken 8th September 1971, to show Abnalls Lane area

Abnalls Lane Moated site circa 2010

View of the moated site from the ground,  August 2012

Massive thanks once again to Gareth. I’m really enjoying studying these photographs and I hope that others do too (On one occasion, I was so engrossed I forgot I was in 1971 not 2012 and was momentarily confused looking for the non-existent little yellow man to do a street view).  Gareth also has a great pinterest site here where he’s adding the local maps he discovers and there’s a great range on there covering different parts of the city & district, so once you’ve had your fill of photos, go and have a look!

Also, I should say that there are some posts & discussions on BrownhillsBob’s Brownhills Blog, based around aerial photographs of Chasewater, Shire Oak and Stonnall, also provided by Gareth.

(1) Source – Lichfield City Council http://www.lichfield.gov.uk/cc-statistics.ihtml

Scheduled Visit

Sitting in the car park of a closed museum*, we pondered our next move. I remembered there was a sign for ‘Castle Ring’ a little way down the road, an Iron Age Hill Fort I’d always meant to visit, but hadn’t. Perfect. A short while later we pulled up in a much fuller car park that the one we had left.

Plan B

Ridge & Furrow I think. See edit below.

As Castle Ring is only about 6 miles away from Lichfield, this post is a nudge to get you to go and have a look for yourself if you possibly can, as descriptions and photos (especially the kind I take!) are no substitute for visiting the highest point of Cannock Chase (235m in fact), which also happens to be a site thought to have been occupied 2,500 years ago. For more information & directions, you can download the leaflet from here and read a much more detailed description on the Pastscape record.

On the subject of photos though, it is worth having a look at a photo of the site from above.

Now that I’ve been once, I shall definitely have to go back. There are the remains of a 12th century medieval hunting lodge I missed and as well as being a Scheduled Ancient Monument, it’s also been classified as a Site of Biological Importance. Adders and common lizards, damselflies and dragonflies are found in the grass and bogland habitats there.

Obviously, I am no expert, but it’s interesting to read the Management Plan  produced by Cannock Chase District Council (according to the plan, they purchased the site for £200 in 1933 at a sale at the Swan Hotel in Lichfield. It had previously belonged to the 6th Marquis of Anglesey). It must be a hard task to maintain a balance between public access to somewhere like this and protecting the site’s ecology and archaeology. 

I’ve mentioned the Scheduled Ancient Monument we have here in Lichfield before. Other than this listing, is there anything in place to protect, manage or inform about this site, as there is at Castle Ring? Should there be?

*My fault entirely. Considering I spend so much time on the internet, you’d think I’d use it for useful things like checking opening times!

Edit 25/1/2012. Doubt has crept in about when that ridge & furrow dates to. I originally said it dated back to early 20th century, based on something I’d read but ‘Born a Lichfeldian’s’ comment has made me rethink this. So if any knows any better (and I’m sure there are plenty that do!) please don’t hesitate to put me straight!