The origins of local history
in Writing local history
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This chapter illustrates the origin of local history. Where, or when, did local history start? It is an obvious question with which to begin, and one can be confident that it began with the study of antiquities, deciding on a suitable date is almost impossible. It can be tracked back as far as the Venerable Bede in the eighth century, but perhaps a more realistic starting point is with the chronicles of Anglo-Saxon monks. Yet these were isolated studies in no particular tradition, and it was only during the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries that something more systematic began with the first descriptive works, known by the generic name of chorographies. Overlapping with, and eventually succeeding, the chorographies were the county histories, and by the seventeenth century a tradition of writing local history had been established which still exists in an attenuated form today.


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