In recent years there has been something of a resurgence in finding our roots and discovering our heritage. The British National Lottery has been able to help do this.
The BBC programme ‘Who Do You Think You Are’ lead the way and has lead to a series of live events and imitation programmes on other channels and around the world. Channel 4’s ‘Time Team’ has added to the interest and the Internet offers various websites dedicated to the tracing of family trees and our own past.
2012 lead to a wave of national pride in Britain particularly with the Diamond Jubilee, the London Olympics and Paralympics and even the success of the latest James Bond film, ‘Skyfall.’
To add to the interest, one of the distributors of funds from the Euromillons prize draw and the British National Lottery, the Heritage Lottery Fund, ran a programme called ‘All Our Stories’ during last summer.
The idea was to provide money for communities to find out more about and celebrate their heritage. The programme was designed to support another BBC programme, ‘The Great British Story – A People’s History,’ presented by Michael Wood.
Projects to be funded through the scheme and from the UK lottery draw were to include a wide range of activities. Conservation, voluntary work, community involvement, buying land and items of historical importance and even digital resources were considered.
One of the first groups to benefit from the money offered by the British National Lottery was the Meldreth History Group in Cambridgeshire. The small village of Meldreth has around 1600 inhabitants and a history going back to Saxon times and beyond.
The history group received £7100 to create a History of Meldreth, which will include the digging of twenty to thirty test pits around the village so that members can understand more about the origins and history of the community.
Help not comes from the UK lottery draw but also from historians and archaeologists from the University of Cambridge, including former television history presenter, Dr Carenza Lewis.
The history group hope to draw in all the villagers, from all age groups, to share the excitement of the project and whatever they might find. Enthusiasm is further fuelled by the knowledge that a 19th century dig discovered a collection of Bronze Age artifacts in the village.
We watch the activities in Meldreth with interest and hope the money from the UK lottery draw will lead to some fascinating finds.
You can find out more about the project at the Meldreth History Group website.