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Common Cause: Through Our Ancestors’ Eyes

Common Cause: Through Our Ancestors’ Eyes

Lead Partner

Commoners Defence Association

What is it about?

Through Our Ancestors’ Eyes will maintain the unique commoning heritage of the New Forest and develop a programme of learning and discovery that will increase public support and understanding for the commoning way of life.

The Commoners Defence Association will conserve and catalogue the history of commoning, forestry and agriculture as central to the cultural heritage of the New Forest by collecting and digitising old photographs, associated oral histories and other documents from Commoners. This will ensure that information on commoning, forestry and the agricultural history of the Forest is saved and made available to future generations. The information will be made available through the Commoners Defence Association website, the New Forest Knowledge online gateway and an exhibition.

The project will:

  • Document commoning practise and provide an information resource for managers, strengthening the role of commoning, which will lead to improved management and therefore better condition
  • Better inform the public about commoning history and commoning families will value the old photographs and documents that their families hold and ensure that they are conserved
  • Search archives and contact a minimum of 42 commoners with the aim of collecting 265 photographs or documents, 145 of which will be scanned, catalogued and made available
  • Produce an exhibition.
Volunteering and training

All volunteers will receive appropriate training to undertake the interviewing, scanning and cataloguing.

Volunteers will be involved with:

  • Downloading images from New Forest Knowledge
  • Interviewing contributors
  • Scanning photographs and documents
  • Catalogue commoning archives from existing collections and those gathered during the project.

Visit the training and volunteering pages for information on specific roles within the Our Past, Our Future landscape partnership scheme.


The ‘commoning collection’ will continue to be expanded after the project ends. The collection will be publically accessible and maintained as an important record of the history of commoning in the New Forest. It will be used to educate current and future generations of the importance of commoning.

Contact details

Jo Ivey – Commoners Defence Association

Tel: 01590 626707 email:

Land Advice Service Manager


'We help commoners to continue their ancient way by providing grants, training and advice.'

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