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Common Cause: Through Our Ancestors’ Eyes

Common Cause: Through Our Ancestors’ Eyes

Lead Partner

Commoners Defence Association

What is it about?

Through Our Ancestors’ Eyes will record the history of commoning, forestry and agriculture, that’s central to the cultural heritage of the New Forest by collecting and digitising old photographs, oral histories and other historical documents from commoners. This will ensure that information on commoning and the agricultural history of the Forest is saved and made available to future generations. This information will be made available through the Commoners Defence Association website, the New Forest Knowledge online gateway and an exhibition.

Our main aims are to:

  • Document commoning practise and provide an information resource, strengthening the role of commoning, and leading to improved management and better condition
  • Better inform the public about commoning history
  • Ensure commoning families value the old photographs and documents that their families hold, and conserve them for future generations.

The first stage has been completed and 20 commoning families have provided photographs and oral recordings. The completed catalogue contains 782 scanned photographs, along with recordings from 14 people which have been transcribed and linked to 500 of the photographs. Where possible these will be made available to the public through the New Forest Knowledge website.

The second stage of work is being undertaken by Richard Reeves and focuses on working with volunteers to research and record archival information, such as the Verderers’ Minutes.

Volunteering and training

There are still opportunities for volunteers to get involved and help with the archival research. If you are interested please see the contact details below.

Visit the training and volunteering pages for more information on specific roles within the Our Past, Our Future landscape partnership scheme.


The ‘commoning collection’ will continue to be expanded and where possible the collection will be publicly accessible and maintained as an important record of the history of commoning in the New Forest. It will be used to educate current and future generations about the importance of commoning.

Contact details

Jo Ivey – Commoners Defence Association

Tel: 01590 626707 email:


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