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Researching the Study Area using Digital Maps

                                                                                                                                      by Karen Anderson

Funds from the Christopher Collier bequest were invested in training members in the use of QGIS, a Geographic Information System. A variety of maps of the area were painstakingly prepared to be used in combination with early editions of OS maps, LiDAR data, geology maps, satellite views, and modern features such as roads, railways and surface water. Combining a map with LiDAR produces a 3D effect, very useful for analysing the landscape. The QGIS plugin Qgis2threejs creates a 3D image that can be rotated to view the landscape from different directions. Tithe maps and their schedules provide detailed information about the area in the mid-19th century - field names, land use, owners and tenants. Adding this data to QGIS involved creating a spreadsheet from the tithe schedule, outlining each field on the digital map and then linking each field to the data. Field names in particular were found to be helpful in locating landmarks mentioned in Saxon land grant charters.


Georeferenced tithe maps on OS base map in QGIS. Tithe maps cover most of the study area. The original maps were drawn to fit on a particular piece of paper, so north isn’t necessarily at the top. Georeferencing involves aligning the tithe maps to the OS grid. Romsey’s tithe map is at the bottom of the stack with the red used to indicate residential buildings in the town just visible at the centre of the image.

Romsey tithe a 2.JPG
Romsey tithe a 2.JPG

Romsey Tithe Map 1845, with permission from Hampshire Record Office HRO 21M65/F7/197/2

Detail of the Romsey tithe map showing the town with modern surface water. Romsey was a compact town when the tithe map was drawn in 1845. The multiple channels of the Test on the floodplain serve four of the town’s mills. The town is on a river terrace, north of the Tadburn stream. An artificial, probably Saxon watercourse, the Fishlake, enters the town from the northeast and divides into two branches, each powering a mill. The late 18th century Andover to Redbridge canal to the east will soon be replaced by a railway. The future course of Romsey’s first railway line cuts across the upper right hand corner of the map.

Fieldnames 1 2.jpg

QGIS in action. On the screen is a section of the Romsey tithe map north of Romsey, labelled with the names of the fields. The colours indicate land use. Modern surface water has been added to the map. At the top of the map the Fishlake starts it zigzag course across the floodplain to the river terrace, contained within substantial banks. Greatbridge Road runs alongside it to the west, carried on a gravel causeway - in Old English a greot brycg. This was the Street mentioned in the Romsey charter of c. 972. Fields adjacent to the road retain the name as Street Meadow.

Romsey tithe 3.jpg
Key 3.jpg

Tithe land use on a LiDAR hillshade base map. Two parishes are mapped here. Romsey Infra lies between the Test and the east branch of the Fishlake, encompassing the abbey and much of the town centre. Romsey Extra has land either side of the Test. All the land east of the Test was granted to the nuns of Romsey abbey by King Edgar in a charter dating from c. 972. Much of this land is tithe free (red dots), so the field names and land use were not recorded. It isn’t known when or how Romsey gained the area west of the Test. The relief provided by the LiDAR shows the steep scarp rising from the Test floodplain to a relatively high plateau at the level of the ancient river terraces numbered 6 and 7 by geologists. This level ground was used for arable with woodland on the slopes.

Maps have been created for all those parishes in the study area that have tithe maps. click here for more tithe maps.

Roads 4.JPG

A LiDAR hillshade map of the Test valley with surface water and roads. The roads are classified with the motorway in blue, major roads orange and minor yellow. Topography has had a major impact on the location and development of settlements in the study area. There is a clear difference in the road pattern and the topography either side of the river. Romsey is located in the valley on the broad river terrace east of the Test. This terrace extends south to Nursling, its edge bordering the floodplain appearing as a highlight. A deep shadow indicates the steeply rising scarp on the opposite side of the floodplain. The river and its resources of water and meadow for grazing stock, and fishing for trout, salmon and eels was inaccessible from the west side of the river. The terrace provided farmers with a well-drained, fertile soil for arable and pasture. The development of Romsey into the area’s main settlement was not simply a matter of chance. With the provision by the Anglo-Saxons of its missing natural resource, running water, its success was ensured.

1826 map1 2.JPG

North Baddesley doesn’t have a tithe map, but an estate map dating to 1826 is in the Hampshire Record Office. There is also a schedule with the names of the numbered fields. Colours distinguish arable and pasture along with a more artistic representation of the woodland.

Baddesley encl 3.JPG

Section of the North Baddesley and Chilworth estate maps and an early edition OS map, plus modern surface water, viewed in 3D. A static image can’t capture the experience of examining a slice of the landscape, tilted and rotated for a view from any angle or direction. Relating the fields and roads to the topography helps to explain their layout. The woods are located on sloping ground, while the roads follow valleys and ridges, avoiding steep climbs. A roughly circular area of pasture and woodland bisected by a road, right of centre, might have been an early medieval stock enclosure. An ‘oval enclosure’ of similar size and shape has been identified at Ashfield south of Romsey. The boundary described in the North Stoneham charter of 932 heads north in the direction of the possible enclosure at North Baddesley along the Byre Way before heading east along Cytanbroces to Ippinghame. These two landmarks can be identified as Kites Brook and Epingham Corner on the estate map.

Multimap 1 2.JPG

A combination of maps showing estates bordering Baddesley Common: Romsey land use tithe map (1845), Chilworth estate map (1755), North Baddesley estate map (1826) and an outline version of the Hursley estate map (1588). The boundaries of the Saxon charters for Chilcomb (909), Ampfield (Ticcenesfeld, 909 x 924), and Romsey (c. 972) all crossed this landscape.

Hilliers enclosure 3.jpg
Hilliers boundary 3.JPG
Hillier Gardens map on LiDAR base map.

The northeast corner of Romsey Extra was tithe free, so the fields there were not depicted on the 1845 tithe map which shows only the roads. The 1812 enclosure map fills in the details. The Jerman’s Farm Road is now Sandy Lane and Jermyns Lane.

The boundaries described in the Saxon charters for Ampfield, Romsey and Michelmersh cross Hillier Gardens. The Bishop’s Bank borders the land belonging to the Bishop of Winchester. The Romsey Local History Society produced this information board which is located beside the bank.

The Bishop's Bank in Hillier Gardens.

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