This a surprise - I'd got the impression that one of the major
archaeological/historical discoveries of recent decades was the surprisingly
small amount of moving around that has gone on until lately - pilgrimage
being likely to be the only time a medieval bloke (or blokess) would have
left their village in their life, etc.
What about the celebrated DNA testing of Cheddar Man, which established that
some of his relations still inhabited the village 9,000 years later? Just a
family addiction to cheese straws?
And what about the persistence of minor regional accents? One could hardly
argue that these attach themselves to the place rather than the
Perhaps there's a distinction to be made here between diurnal or
'commuting'-type journeys (to which these anecdotes all relate), or
transhumance, and migration.
----- Original Message -----
From: rob <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Wednesday, February 16, 2005 10:04 AM
Subject: Re: A moblie society or not!
> I think from my genealogical studies that we are far less mobile than our
> forbears. For instance my 2nd Great Grandparents moved from Rosliston in
> Derbyshire to Mansfield and back again before they moved to Doncaster.
> Another example is a guy from Appleby who used to walk to Leicester as
> when it was required to execute someone. The oral story told was that one
> morning he set off to Leicester to hang a felon and his wife asked him to
> get her some material for a dress she was making. When he got their he
> found the felon had been pardoned so he didn't get paid. I do wonder
> the long walk home what is wife said to him. There are hundred more
> anecdotes like these in genealogy and some are more than just oral
> Ok we can be in America now in 7 hours or Australia in 24 hours but we are
> less likely to walk to the corner shop. Motorised transport as made us
> lazy. I suppose the best way to compare movement would be to check the
> century censuses. I guess this could be the topic of someone's
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "John Wood" <[log in to unmask]>
> To: <[log in to unmask]>
> Sent: Wednesday, February 16, 2005 12:39 AM
> Subject: A moblie society or not!
> In my early years in Lowlandshire I was taught that before the 'Age of
> Steam' and the motor car the population rarely transgressed the the
> threshold of their immediate neighbourhood.
> But is that true?
> I recently read an article in a local rag about the life of Admiral Hood
> lived in a place called 'Catherington House' to the north of Portsmouth.
> lived there around 1800 and each day he rode , when not at sea, by horse
> his workplace at Portsmouth dockyard some 15 miles away.
> I appreciate that his job was something more than the average person but
> miles is quite a way to go to work when the average worker these day
> less of a distance and with motorised assistance.
> I had a good friend, who sadly past away a few years ago, who ran milk
> deliveries in Lowlandshire in the 30s. She had a horse drawn delivery cart
> and from collecting the milk to delivering to the customers she had to
> travel 10 miles from where she picked up the milk to where she started her
> deliveries. That is quite a distance even when not including the extra
> mileage for delivering the milk to each house.
> Her father had a small holding and delivered vegetable goods to the market
> in downtown Portsmouth three time a week during the summer. He travelled,
> with horse and cart, about 18 miles each way during the day and thought
> nothing of it. Admittedly my friend used to laugh at the fact that he
> drove the horse home but that the horse drove him as he used to get very
> drunk in Portsmouth and the horse knew the way home. Not a myth but been
> verified by many of my ol' friends. In those days there was little car
> traffic and still very much use of horses and so the horses got to know
> routes they were supposed to go. Supposedly my friend's father's horse had
> the habit of stopping outside the 'Sunshine Inn' in Farlington whereby the
> happy chappy had enough time to sober up from the long trail from
> market to get a few more inside him before he got home to the 'trouble and
> But to turn away from this oral history and back on subject.
> My feeling from the above and with many more references which I have to
> is that peoples of the past have been more mobile than most think today
> The idea of looking at isolated settlements within the British landscape
> looking 'outwardly at the rest of the world' maybe something that we have
> only invented assuming that peoples of the past did not have the
> like we have today, and were limited to the horizons of venture.
> I believe that in all periods of our past there has been an immense amount
> of 'free mobility' within Britain as well as the rest of the world.
> The concept of 'travel' we see today is not that of the past.
> People, I believe, had a concept of distance better than we have now.
> Today so many people are happy to get in their cars to travel just several
> hundreds of yards to the nearest shop to pick up 'essentials'. The peoples
> of the past would have done such the same in all weathers and not really
> have gone to much thought about it but doing it on only their two feet.
> For peoples of the past to travel many many miles for whatever purpose
> again just be a matter of doing, as there was no alternative.
> Once again this message goes along the lines of 'our' perspective of
> in the past. To follow our expectations of how people in the past thought,
> how they reacted to the world around them and most importantly how they
> lived in it!!!
> Can we ever know or judge as my last paragraph and to know actually how
> people have lived in their daily lives through he archaeological record?
> I think we can!
> But it take one hell of a lot more thinking about!
> One hell of a more applying the grey cells!
> Basically the answer lies in the fundamental understanding of applying
> knowledge and not only on the face value of knwoledge.
> There has to be some number crunching once the evidence is there!
> Something to think about here I think!
> John Wood of Lowlandshire