Welsh tithe maps project

Vol­un­teers help Na­tional Li­brary of Wales digi­tise 1200 maps

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The Na­tional Li­brary of Wales has launched its own col­lec­tion of Welsh tithe maps on­line. They are now avail­able for free at the new Places of Wales web­site, https://places. li­brary.wales.

Tithe maps were pro­duced for the whole of Eng­land and Wales af­ter the Tithe Com­mu­ta­tion Act of 1836, which re­placed the his­toric tra­di­tion of church levies be­ing paid through goods in kind with mone­tary pay­ments. The re­sult­ing maps, which de­tail land own­er­ship and oc­cu­pa­tion, were pro­duced from 1838 to 1850 and form the most de­tailed maps avail­able from the era be­fore Ord­nance Sur­vey maps.

In the case of Wales, more than 1000 tithe maps are avail­able, which cover 95% of the coun­try. The level of de­tail in the Welsh maps varies, and in some cases place names are not shown. The maps are ac­com­pa­nied by ap­por­tion­ment doc­u­ments (also re­ferred to as sched­ules) which pro­vide de­tails about the peo­ple who owned or oc­cu­pied each piece of land, what they had to pay, and de­tails of field sizes and land use.

Three copies of tithe maps were typ­i­cally made, with one pro­duced for the lo­cal parish (typ­i­cally now in county archives), a sec­ond for the Tithe Com­mis­sion­ers (now held at The Na­tional Archives), and a third for the dioce­san registry; for Wales, the lat­ter are held at the Na­tional Li­brary of Wales in Aberys­t­wyth. TNA’s maps for both Eng­land and Wales have al­ready been digi­tised and are cur­rently only avail­able to sub­scribers at www.the­ge­neal­o­gist.co.uk. Some re­gional archives have also digi­tised their own col­lec­tions – see http://maps.cheshire.gov.uk/ tithemaps/, for ex­am­ple.

The Places of Wales web­site is the work of the Cynefin Project (see http:// cynefin.archiveswales.org.uk), a crowd­sourc­ing project mostly funded by the Her­itage Lot­tery Fund and us­ing vol­un­teers to re­pair and digi­tise tithe maps for Wales. The project part­ners are Ar­chive Wales, the Na­tional Li­brary of Wales and Peo­ple’s Col­lec­tion Wales.

In to­tal the site of­fers 1200 maps, with more than 30,000 pages of the digi­tised

sched­ules describing vil­lages, farms and in­di­vid­ual plots of land. It can be browsed by place, with plots shown on a mod­ern satel­lite map or an 1880s Ord­nance Sur­vey, as well as searched by parish, oc­cu­pier, landowner and farm or field name. Orig­i­nal sched­ule doc­u­ments are avail­able to view, and the in­for­ma­tion on them has been tran­scribed.

One of the high­lights of Places of Wales is the abil­ity to see the whole of Wales as a one huge, joined map. This means that users can browse the maps and cross from one parish to another. It is also pos­si­ble to see the bound­aries of each map and their names.

The NLW also in­tends to add fur­ther place-re­lated data sets to the Places of Wales site in fu­ture as new map lay­ers, en­abling re­searchers to com­pare in­for­ma­tion from dif­fer­ent sources.

Linda To­mos, chief ex­ec­u­tive and li­brar­ian at NLW, com­mented: ‘What has been achieved here by the Li­brary and its part­ners is quite re­mark­able and this in­cred­i­ble re­source will ben­e­fit ev­ery­one who’s in­ter­ested in the places where they live and work. In­no­va­tion and growth is im­por­tant to us and this new plat­form en­sures that the Li­brary re­mains at the cut­ting edge of us­ing tech­nol­ogy to pro­vide free ac­cess to our col­lec­tions for plea­sure, learn­ing and re­search.’

Other on­go­ing vol­un­teer projects in Wales in­clude tran­scrip­tions of 1840s Chartist court cases in south Wales ( http://chartist.cynefin. wales/) and Wales’ Book of Re­mem­brance – po­ten­tial vol­un­teers can find out more at www.wales­for­peace. org. The NLW is also ex­pected to an­nounce a new crowd­sourced digi­ti­sa­tion project in Septem­ber – con­tact vol­un­teer­ing@llgc.org.uk for more in­for­ma­tion.

The Cynefin Project’s work on tithe maps is now com­plete, with 30,000 pages of records digi­tised and avail­able at the Places of Wales web­site

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