Routes to the Past


Opportunities to stay involved with heritage from the safety of your own home!

The Buckinghamshire Council Archaeology Service sits on the steering group of two National Heritage Lottery Funded projects run by the Chilterns Conservation Board, Beacons of the Past and Chalk, Cherries, Chairs. You can read all about Beacons of the Past, and their online research opportunities, on our earlier blog entries, but we haven’t ever shared with you all the wonderful sub-projects being undertaken as part of the Chalk, Cherries, Chairs project. Read on to learn more about one of the sub-projects and how you can be involved from the safety of your own home!


Chalk, Cherries, Chairs

Routes to the Past: Mapping the Historic Routeways of the Chilterns


Whilst we aren’t able to get outside as much right now, there is a wealth of resources available online that let you explore your local area from home and dig into its history. The Chilterns are filled with iconic historical features; sunken lanes or holloways allow us to walk back through time, tracing paths that have been walked for thousands of years, hillforts and barrows with views and sizeable earthworks that left a large mark on the landscape. Alongside these there are also many things that might pass by un-noticed; roman villas and roads visible only as crop marks or slight lines in LiDAR imagery, industrial sites now hidden beneath fields, WWII POW and resettlement camps hidden beneath beech woodland, and many of these are only discoverable through the resources that can be found online.


Routes to the Past is an ongoing project using both online resources and fieldwork to focus on the old routeways of the Chilterns, many of which lie hidden and disused beneath field and woodland. Even those still in use have great stories to tell – who used them, why were they were named as they were, how old are they. The project aims to map the sunken lanes, drover’s roads, trackways, roman roads and turnpikes that criss-cross the Chilterns, and bring together what we know about them into a single interactive resource for all to explore.


To find out more about this project, and for a list of online resources that can help you learn more about your area and its history, head to and uncover the history of that sunken lane you walk on the weekend, the road you drive to get to work, or the fields near your home.


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