As readers will no doubt be aware, I’m really, really fond of local history and the way it’s evolving online. Although I’ve noted concerns and issues, on the whole, the internet and cooperation it enables is making a huge difference to both the quality and quantity of work becoming available.
Nowhere is this more evident than in Lichfield, right now. Between cardigan aficionado Kate, from the superlative Lichfield Lore, and top Lichfield District Council Geographic Services officer Garath Thomas, plus a great Facebook group (yes, they do exist) on Lichfield History, much is emerging.
This weekend, Kate has posted an utterly amazing story of a lost mosaic. Please visit her blog, take a good look around, and join in the debate. Gareth Thomas has helped immensely with this (as he has helped me in the past) and his blog – more of a local history Aladdin’s Cave – is a wondrous thing in itself. The man is a gentleman and doing something remarkable. I am unaware of any authority cooperating and supporting local historians in the way Gareth and Lichfield District Council are doing.
Kate and Gareth have written, located and documented so much stuff of late – and with other characters contributing, like Dave Moore and Ian Pell, the wealth and warmth of our collective past is becoming clearer, more detailed, and dare I say it, more accurate than ever before.
What I most appreciate is that we get together – be it on Twitter, through Facebook or comments on each other’s work – and can disagree, debate and challenge. Where local history was (and still is, in some regrettable cases) the work of the lone wolf, given over to the mystics and storytellers beyond reproach and out of reach or question, blogs like Lichfield Lore, Gareth’s site and others provide a welcome, robust arena for debate and exploration.
History is a mosaic. Piece by piece, we’re putting it together. None of us are right, and none of us are wrong – we each have our own stories, our own truths. Understanding that and exploring it is a wonderful thing.