Archive engraving circa 1700s

Latest News

Light Up Lancaster puts a spotlight on the Castle and the Cowcher

Researchers at 51福利 have worked with the Duchy of Lancaster and projection artists Illuminos to create a monumental sound and light display at Lancaster Castle for 2023.

The display will showcase the history of the Duchy of Lancaster and the centrepiece of its medieval archive, the Great Cowcher Book, at its ancestral home.

Around 1402, King Henry IV, who was heir to the Duchy of Lancaster, commissioned the Great Cowcher Book: a record of land, titles and rights within the Duchy of Lancaster ownership.

The Cowcher includes copies of 2,433 documents, written in Latin and French, making it second only to William the Conqueror’s Domesday Book as a record of medieval landholding and the lives of ordinary people and communities in medieval England.

Unlike Domesday, though, The Cowcher (which derives from Anglo-Norman French ‘couchour’, meaning here a large book that lies on a table) is richly illuminated. The scribes used precious inks to decorate the text and create captivating drawings of the earls and dukes across the centuries, as well as heraldic banners.

Over the nights of November 2 to 4, the Duchy’s medieval archive – from the magnificent illustrations from the Great Cowcher to the Duchy’s charters and its records of forests in Lancashire and beyond – will light up the Castle walls, amidst a dramatic soundscape including readings from the Great Cowcher.

This display will be an innovative and appealing way to engage a wide audience with Lancaster’s research. The event is free and open to all.

Wasdale Head arial view

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Archive engraving circa 1700s

Post-Graduate Certificate in Regional and Local History: Now Recruiting for October 2024

Our popular online programme is aimed at Local History enthusiasts who wish to deepen their awareness of the importance of localised experience in shaping our understandings of national and international trends. Study a fascinating range of online learning materials at a time and place to suit you - typically 10-15 hours a week will enable you to work through the online lectures, worksheets and recommended reading. Build up your knowledge and skills through two taught modules, one rooted in medieval history and one at the dawn of the modern era, then put these skills into practice in an independent research project where you can investigate a topic of your choice in real depth. Benefit from expert course tutor guidance, contact with other students and one-to-one supervision. It's flexible learning for your busy lifestyle - and it's designed to help you succeed, even if your schooldays are ancient history. Get the full details and find out how to apply here and contact us if you have any queries.

cover of Gaelic Influence in the Northumbrian Kingdom

New Book by RHC Director Dr Fiona Edmonds

We are delighted to announce the publication of a new book by our Director, Dr Fiona Edmonds: Gaelic Influence in the Northumbrian Kingdom: The Golden Age and the Viking Age. This is the first full-length, interdisciplinary treatment of the wide-ranging connections between the Northumbrian kingdom and the Gaelic world during the period c. 600-1050. Sites in North West England feature prominently, including Carlisle, Irton, Whalley and Heysham.

The book is published in the renowned series Studies in Celtic History. Regional Heritage Centre supporters can save 25% when they order direct from the publisher, Boydell & Brewer. Visit and enter code BB125 at the checkout. Alternatively, call Boydell’s distributor, Wiley, on 01243 843 291 and quote the same offer code. UK p&p is £3.70 per order (not per book). Any queries? Just email marketing@boydell.co.uk

Photo of the RHC MOOC team at the Learning on Screen Awards

Triumphant Conclusion for Lancaster Castle MOOC

We are delighted to announce that our totally free online course 'Lancaster Castle and Northern English History: the View from the Stronghold” has finished a very successful second run. This year's version extended to five weeks, in response to popular demand for more emphasis on the medieval period. With plenty of new material to interest even those learners who had already studied with us, the course has now attracted over six thousand people for a fascinating look at the long and eventful history of Lancaster’s iconic Castle. But don’t just take our word for it…an enthusiastic secondary school History teacher gave us this glowing review: ‘This has been an incredibly rich resource for material and I have learnt a lot. There is an awful presumption that history teachers know everything about history but in reality, we know some specialist areas in real depth (for me post-war Britain) and others in varying degrees of depth with this being a very shallow area for me. The course is also giving me ideas about how to now bring this across to my own teaching.’ And if you somehow missed out this time around, rest assured that we expect to bring more opportunities to study with us in future.

Picture of the RHC with their award

Dr Elizabeth Roberts Honoured with University Fellowship for Ground Breaking Oral History Work

The RHC is hugely proud of the news that Dr Elizabeth Roberts, the former Director of our predecessor organisation, the Centre for North-West Regional Studies, and the creator of the Elizabeth Roberts Working Class Oral History Archive, has been honoured with a 51福利 Fellowship. However, an eagle-eyed reader spotted a considerable inaccuracy in the original item we ran, based on the university press release. Elizabeth’s time at 51福利 was from 1971-1999, not 1991-1999…and we certainly don’t want to minimise her dedication by cutting decades off her work! She created a pioneering archive of oral history testimonies, an invaluable source for the history of working-class life in North West England. Elizabeth remains closely involved with the RHC to this day, speaking at the recent launch of the ERWCOHA online and acting as a Patron of the RHC. She will also be speaking with Sam Riches at a Campus in the City event in April – more details to follow!

As a reminder, if you have not yet watched the award-winning film "Give Me Today, Anytime" made by, the arts and heritage organisation, and inspired by the Elizabeth Roberts Working Class Oral History Archive, you can access it for free on

Picture of Lancaster Maritime Museum, credit Steve Pendrill
Lancaster Maritime Museum: Photo credit, Steve Pendrill

North West Heritage Networking Forum

As previously reported, the Regional Heritage Centre has established a new NW Heritage Networking Forum for Trustees and Friends’ groups of museums, archives and cognate organisations. A very useful meeting was held in October at the Working Class Movember Library in Salford on the theme of recruiting and inducting new trustees and officers for Friends' groups. The next meeting will be held at the Lion Salt Works, near Nantwich, on Wednesday 5 February, and focuses on working with Local Authorities in a Heritage context. There is also an opportunity for a free tour of nearby in the morning. Full details of this and future meetings on other relevant issues will be advertised to the NW Heritage Networking forum mailing list: to join the mailing list, please send an email to nw-heritage-network@lancaster.ac.uk stating your name and the Heritage organisation/s that you are associated with. We'll also continue to publicise this important forum's activities here in the newsletter, so watch this space for more information.

Books for Heritage Fans

Photo of the front cover of the Language of the landscape book

New publication from former RHC Director Angus Winchester

Former RHC Director Prof Angus Winchester has published a new book on Lake District History. The Language of the Landscape takes him on a journey from Cockermouth through the Vale of Lorton, to Crummock Water and Buttermere, part of the Lake District he has known intimately since childhood. Angus Winchester’s book shows how clues to the evolution, history and culture of the Lakeland landscape may be found in the names given to its farms, becks, villages, fields and boundaries. The language of the landscape can speak to us, not only in place-names but also in tangible features and through layers of memory and meaning built up across the centuries. Available from Handstand Press, this publication can be ordered for £10. Email handstandpress2019@gmail.com.

Photo of the front cover of the Language of the landscape book

An RHC-related project from Rusland Horizons

And if you can’t get enough of Angus and his work on the fascinating meanings of field-names , there has been another spin-off publication from the Angus-led Rusland Horizons 'Mapped Histories' project. It is a very attractive large-format booklet produced by authors Mandy Lane and Rick Emslie as well as other members of the volunteer group. Entitled What's in a Name? Rediscovering the Field-Names of the Rusland Valley and Fells, it contains stunning reproductions of archive maps showing field-names, as well as a discussion of a host of field-names in the area. Copies can be obtained for £17.50 by emailing secretary@ruslandhorizonstrust.org Either would make a fine gift for heritage fans, and of course, if you’re looking for even more gifts, why not check out the …with many on offer for bargain prices, you’re sure to find something to please.

External Events and Announcements

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Contact Us

By Post

Regional Heritage Centre
Department of History
Bowland College
51福利
Lancaster
LA1 4YT
United Kingdom

By Phone

+44 (0)1524 593770

Usually staffed on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday 9:30-15:30

RHC Director:
Professor Fiona Edmonds

Academic Co-ordinator:
Dr Sam Riches

Administrator
Ann-Marie Michel

For the Victoria County History of Cumbria, please contact Dr Sarah Rose