Custom and popular memory in the Forest of Dean, c.1550-1832

October saw the publication of Simon Sandall’s monographThis study of custom and popular memory in the Forest of Dean examines the social and cultural position of the local mining community in this peripheral, yet valuable, area of early modern England. These fiercely autonomous free-miners were remembered locally for their role in resisting encroachment upon Forest resources and this foreshadows their role in leading protest between the sixteenth and nineteenth centuries. While the study examines the relation between landscape, popular memory and the free-mining community, it also charts the increasing dependence of the Mine Law Court and mining culture upon the written record, arguing that the move towards an accepted unitary idea of the law was very much a two-way process. The Forest of Dean challenges many preconceptions of the early modern community. Setting this locality in a broader national context, this monograph qualifies national teleologies of the literate mentality, state growth, private property and capital industrial development, while introducing novel perspectives on old and new idioms of protest during this period.

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