How to Use the Chronicle
As you will have seen, the Homepage of this website is divided into three main sections. These are:|
OTHER POINTS TO NOTE
- The St Edmundsbury Chronicle:- This is the heart of the project, and details events that happened year by year, in the order in which they happened.
- Appendices:- Many of these are referenced from within the Chronicle itself. However, they can be browsed quite independently of the Chronicle, and provide a good overview of the topics covered.
- Exhibits and Evidence:- Like the appendices, most of this evidence is referenced within the Chronicle, but it can easily be viewed as a stand alone insight into local history. This section is most like a "virtual museum", and local museum exhibits are strongly featured in this section.
- Most of the small "thumbnail" pictures can be 'clicked on' to reveal a larger version of the picture. Use the browser 'Back' button to return to your original position within the text.
- By hovering the cursor over most thumbnails, you can reveal additional information about the scene, or its source
- At the foot of every page is one or more 'buttons' to navigate yourself back to the site's main homepage or to the topic homepage.
What is Chronicle 2000?
Chronicle 2000 began life as a personal millennium project. David Addy, the author, found that the task needed to be greater than a list of dates, and so the project over-ran its target date of 2000 by several years. It is still being refined and amended in 2013. The intention was to emulate the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles, using current English, but bringing the story right up to date. The area to be covered was the administrative area of St Edmundsbury Borough Council, in the west of Suffolk.|
In the earliest years of our Chronicle there is little evidence directly related to the St Edmundsbury area, and so a wider geographical area is covered. The focus tightens to West Suffolk as the Chronicle proceeds.
In addition, mention is often made of events outside this area which would have had local consequences. A weakness of many local histories seemed to me to be an absence of a greater context, which inevitably impacted upon the lives of our little area. Often a big local event can be seen as just part of a national mood or theme. I have tried to reflect the bigger picture, but will, no doubt, sometimes have missed the mark.
The Chronicle began life in 1997 and the first version was not substantially completed until 2003. The original draft was then published on the St Edmundsbury Borough Council website. The look and feel of the Chronicle reflected the design of the Council's website at the time, which had been fixed since its launch in 1997. It was designed in-house by Chris Woodhouse, the council's Computer Services manager.
In late 2003 the council website was re-designed by consultants to facilitate content management, and a new look was adopted. The look and feel of the Chronicle was then changed to reflect the new website format, but the content remained largely the same.
This chronicle you are now reading reverts to the look and feel of the original 1997 design by Chris Woodhouse.
Since 2003 this chronicle has been substantially extended. As computers have got more powerful, and broad-band internet connections became widely available, many more pictures were added. As it grew larger it was then revised to be released as a CD-rom. Some of you may have copies on CD-Rom which were released to you privately. These are all dated on the Homepage.
On 5th July 2012 the Council again revised their website and the content of the Chronicle which the council had carried since 2003 was removed in order that the website could focus more upon the "key business" of the council. Over the following months there were various enquiries from the public about the missing content. In particular a local teacher had used it for lesson preparation and the Haverhill Local History Group needed the information from the Close up on Haverhill sections. I was then approached and it was mutually decided that my expanded and revised version should be published once again, but this time as a stand-alone website.
On December 11th 2012, the Chronicle was re-launched on the internet at URL www.stedmundsburychronicle.co.uk with technical assistance from Gaia Technology Ltd provided by the Council.
Use of Repetition
If you think you find passages where you have read it before, then you probably have! I have used repetition throughout the Chronicle in order to help those people who are new to the subject to remember the facts, but also in order to make each section complete within itself. With information being accessed by electronic means, users may find topics by way of a search engine, by way of random browsing, and by way of reading from the start of a topic or section. By the use of repetition I hope to provide all users with all the information they require, no matter how they accessed the particular topic.|
Now a few words about dates, and how not to take them too seriously.
Pre-Roman or 'pre-historic' dating
When the Romans came to Britain they had historians who wrote histories, military commanders who wrote reports, and a whole administrative structure which recorded events and dates. The peoples who lived in Britain before the Romans did not have writing and although they left permanent signs of their presence in the landscape, the exact dates of much of their activity is a matter of scientifically based detective work to reconcile often apparently conflicting evidence.|
Techniques of dating by radio-carbon analysis, the examination of tree rings in relic wood, pollen counts, the occurrence of remains at certain levels in the soil, etc, are all evidence. Unfortunately the results of each technique can apparently differ by well over 1,000 years in some cases.
Also please be aware that some writers date events BP or Before Present, and in 1998, 4,000 years ago or 4,000 BP equates to about 2,000 BC. In our chronicle, dates earlier than 10,000 BC are dated BP in line with general practice, and BC then takes over.
If you see a date marked c.6,500 BC it stands for the Latin word "circa", for "roundabout" or "approximately". It really means, "as far as we know, and taking into account all the evidence, this probably happened at round about 6,500 BC".
Therefore, please treat the dates in our Chronicle with some caution. Roman coins are precisely dated and can be used as 'bottom line' dating; and for cross-dating cultures outside the Empire, from India to Scandinavia. There are problems, of course, such as the state of wear and the date the coins were lost or buried and so forth.|
Even in comparatively modern times, we must remember that the calendar has been re-arranged more than once to the confusion of today's students of the past.
The Dark Ages
Please also note that the problem of dates comes back again after the Romans left Britain, because of a lack of written records. This lack of writing even led the post-Roman period to be known as the Dark Ages to early Historians.
From 630 to 869 the Saxon monasteries probably contained written material, some of which would undoubtedly have helped today's historians. However, it seems that the Vikings systematically destroyed or looted much of this material when they invaded the east of England.
The Anglo-Saxon Chronicles
The use of latin as a written language declined somewhat in the 9th century and when the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles were first started they were written in Old English. Alfred the Great is credited with the spread of English as a written language. The original Chronicles were possibly started in Winchester by the monks, under Alfred's guidance, and aimed to be a record of events from the birth of Christ, or 60 years earlier in two cases.|
In the 10th and 11th centuries there was no general agreement as to when the year began. There were three, or even four, options, none of which included the 1st January. The dates in general use were:
Early Chronicles start the year at Christmas, but another calendar in use at the same time begins the year in the autumn, the time of the Caesarian Indiction. Unfortunately you cannot always tell what the start of the year is in any document. Probably Christmas Day was the commonest at this time.
- 1st September - this was the old Roman Imperial tax date, and called the Constantinople Indiction
- 24th September - the "imperial", or "Caesarian" or "Constantinian" Indiction,
- 25th December - Christmas Day, but dated as the birth of Christ
- 25th March - the date of the Annunciation
By the 12th century it was becoming more common to start the year with the Annunciation on 25th March, but the use of the King's regnal year was also widespread in official circles.
So whereas a modern person would say that Alfred the Great died in 899, a contemporary who believed a year began on 1st September would naturally call it 900. King Harold was crowned on 6th January 1066 to a modern person, but on 6th January 1065, to someone who dated a year beginning on 25th March.
Dating in early Modern Times up to 1752
As printing became widespread, and more and more people began to keep records and diaries, more dating evidence has been left to us. The use of March 25th as the start of a year was now standard practice. However after 1582, even people in England grew more confused about the year. On the continent the new fangled Gregorian Calendar was in force, and the year there began on January 1st. By the time of the Civil War, a careful Englishman might even record a date such as March 1st as 1641/42, to signify the use of the English date.|
A later example might also help to illustrate this issue.
On 13th March 1721, both Coke and Woodburn were found guilty of murder at Bury Assizes. Sentence was carried out the following day.
This case illustrates the problem that modern people can have with the dating systems in use in the past. This is how we need to interpret it.
From late medieval times, up until 1751, the English year began on Lady Day, the 25th March. Therefore the date known at the time as 13th March 1721, to modern eyes would seem to be properly called 13th March 1722.
Dates have been "adjusted" like this over the years by later writers, and sometimes have got adjusted more than once, so that this trial has been written up as happening in 1721 or 1722, or even 1723. Does this matter? Yes, it does matter if we are looking to follow the sequence of events, or the cause and effect. To modern minds the events of January, February and March 1721 are assumed to have taken place before the events of April to December, 1721. But to the person in 1721 they naturally took them to occur after April to December.
Modern Dates began in 1752
Until the end of 1751 the year began in Britain on Lady Day, the 25th March. If March was therefore counted as the first month, this explains why September was the seventh, October, the eighth, November the ninth and December the tenth month, as in their names. |
In 1752 England and Wales finally adopted the Gregorian Calendar and an 11 day correction was needed to bring Britain into line with Europe. The day after September 2nd became September 14th 1752. The new year now began on January 1st. This new system had been in use in the Catholic world since 1582 when Pope Gregory instituted months of unequal length, and invented the leap year to keep local time in step with the movement of the planets.
Remnants of the old system linger on in our tax year in Britain. The Income Tax year starts on April 6th, which is 11 days after the original Day 1 of the year when it was March 25th. Governments since have never been brave enough to change to a more sensible date.
For CD-Rom Users only:- Searching this history
I have not tried to include a search engine within this history. Neither have I tried to include an index. As programming technology improves, I have found that it is better for the user to download a proprietary search engine for themselves.|
I recommend Copernic Desktop Search as the best search engine for finding words, keyphrases or dates within Chronicle 2000. It will seek out any keyword which you enter and find you all instances of it within the Chronicle. It will display the exact references within the Chronicle, and in addition, will find any other references on your own computer, or on the web, if required.
Download Copernic for yourself here:
Copernic Desktop Search Engine
Other search engines may work, but this one has worked for me for many years now.
There are countless books and articles which have contributed to this heap of knowledge, and most are listed at the appropriate page within the website. For Bury St Edmunds itself, the best starting point is found in the books by Margaret Statham.|
However, we would get nowhere in our local history without the contributions made by The Suffolk Record Office at Bury St Edmunds and the Suffolk Archaeology Service and their publications and assistance.
Much information has also been harvested from the records and publications of St Edmundsbury Borough Council.
The Bury St Edmunds Heritage Guides have provided much support in recent years, and Martyn Taylor in particular has helped me to fill in many gaps in our local story.
The website "Wikipedia" has supplied much background material and several pictures, particularly of historical individuals.
If the reader can discern any threads of thought running through the story, some of these will have been gleaned from the Day Schools run at Sutton Hoo by Wuffing Education. Their Saturday lectures (mainly Anglo-Saxon and Medieval History) feature national experts in their fields, and ensure that your knowledge is kept up to date.
See Wuffing Education for further details.
The initial set-up costs and running costs of this site are supported by St Edmundsbury Borough Council who rightly take no responsibility for its content.