Festival of Archaeology 2016

on Saturday, 09 July 2016. Posted in Archaeology

As part of the Council for British Archaeology’s national Archaeology Festival the Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre will be helping to host the following events:

To reserve places or for more information on these events email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.



New Heritage Quarter Maps Unlock Calne’s Past

on Thursday, 23 June 2016.

It’s never been easier to discover Calne’s thriving past with the installation of six new maps around the town’s Heritage Quarter. Each of the six maps contains site-specific information and historical photographs, offering readers a glimpse into the past of each location.

Produced in collaboration between Calne Heritage Centre, Calne Town Council and community tourism group Calne Our Place, the maps are designed to encourage both visitors and residents to step off the beaten track and explore Calne’s historic streets and parks.

Calne Heritage Quarter Maps

Sue Boddington, curator of Calne Heritage Centre, describes “We hope these attractive and informative maps placed in strategic locations will help visitors and residents to understand and appreciate the town's long and fascinating history and stimulate a desire to visit the Heritage Centre, with its wealth of photographs and information, to discover more.”

The maps can be found on interpretation boards outside Calne Heritage Centre and on The Green, as well as in bus stops on the High Street, The Pippin and either side of The Strand. Funded by grants from Wiltshire Council through Calne Area Board and Calne Chamber of Commerce, the maps also feature the location of Calne’s Blue Plaques and points of interest with the Heritage Quarter.

Calne Heritage Quarter Map, The Strand

Calne Heritage Quarter was delineated 18 months ago by community tourism group Calne Our Place. The quarter is one of a number of the group’s initiatives to raise the town’s profile as a place to visit, as Claire Selman, Calne Town Council Publicity & Promotions Officer, describes. “Calne benefits from a huge amount of volunteer support in the promotion of the town, with Calne Our Place working on a number of exciting projects to attract people to the area such as the development of the A4 as a tourist trail. There are plenty of ways to get involved, like ‘Calne Our Place’ on Facebook to get in touch or contact myself at Calne Town Council on 01249 814000.”

Calne Heritage Centre is free to visit and open Wednesdays to Saturdays 10am to 4pm and Sundays 2pm to 4pm. Learn more about the town’s past with a programme of walks, talks and events during Calne Heritage Week from the 5th to 11th September.

Wiltshire at War Exhibition

on Tuesday, 07 June 2016.

The Call to Arms – The first exhibition in the Wiltshire at War: Community Stories will be on display at the Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre, Chippenham, from Monday 06 June – Tuesday 05 July 2016.

Using letters and archive images this exhibit tells the fascinating stories of men in Wiltshire called to arms in the early months of the First World War. It includes information panels and an interactive video display of stories, and is the first of five Wiltshire at War exhibitions, which are part of Wiltshire County’s multi-year remembrance of the First World War. Stories have been gathered from all across Wiltshire to create this exhibition.

All five Wiltshire at War exhibitions will be touring around Wiltshire until 2019.

Make sure to keep up with events and exhibition locations at www.wiltshireatwar.org.uk, www.twitter.com/wiltshireatwar and www.facebook.com/wiltshireatwar

If you would be interested in donating content, or hosting an exhibition, please get in touch at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Maps For Sale

on Friday, 22 April 2016.

We have a large number of 3rd edition 25 inch to one mile Ordnance Survey maps of Wiltshire for sale. Currently we are offering those from the southern third of the county, Old County Series 47 to 77, roughly from Warminster and Ludgershall southwards. Between the wars most of these were owned by the military and military features and other information that were on the 2nd edition but may have been omitted from the 3rd edition have been overprinted on these maps.

We are offering these at a very reasonable price of £3.00 per sheet, e.g. sheet 65. 12, to visitors at the History Centre. Do contact us – 01249 705500 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to see if we still have the sheets in which you’re interested if you are thinking of making a special trip.

We will be offering maps of the central and northern parts of Wiltshire later in the year.

We also still have secondhand Wiltshire books for sale and at the moment we are offering a selection of earlier books that you may not find online or in secondhand bookshops.


Digitisation of Parish Registers

on Monday, 04 April 2016.

Prior to 1837 there were no central records of citizens kept by the government. The only comparable records to the later registration of births, marriages and deaths are the parish registers which were kept by each local Anglican Church and into which the vicar recorded every baptism, marriage and burial performed in the church. The earliest registers date from 1538 although substantive record keeping was often not begun until the seventeenth century.

Parish registers are one of the most useful sources to use to trace your family history, as well as revealing people often marginalised in historical sources. For example we see:

“Maria Mandula “Advena et aethiops” Stranger and aethiops.  Burial 1586, Calne St Mary parish register”

“Elizabeth the Blackmoor lived at the White Hart, buried 26 Jan 1653. Salisbury St Thomas parish register”

 Although we have very useful indexed transcripts here (created by the Wiltshire Family History Society and covering baptisms and burials up to 1837), and microfiche copies of the original registers for perusal, it becomes a very time consuming process to look for ancestors if you do not have an idea of which parish they lived in. Bit of an ancestor needle in a parish haystack!

However, we are excited to announce that staff from Ancestry are currently undertaking the digitisation of the baptism, marriage and burial registers held here. These will then be available to view online at Ancestry, and searchable by name, location and date. There are thousands of volumes to digitise, but the team are now well over 25% complete! ‘Don’t count your ancestors before they are indexed’ though – it will be some time before all the digitisation, and subsequent indexing and transcription is complete. An exciting prospect for the future!

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