With the launch this month of the Shire Living Histories series this guest blog from James Daly asks us to consider all the ways in which history is constantly around us.
James runs his own history website, the really rather excellent DalyHistory.
'Interesting thought isnt it. Classrooms? Books? Films? Museums? Libraries? Stately homes? Maybe in times gone by History was something that was taught by teachers, written by authors, shown in films or stored in glass cases. Sadly, this meant that history became about castles, kings, battles, generals, paintings and the like. Whilst these are all pretty interesting, they are only a small part of the picture - what you might call \'capital H\' History.
But the world is a different place. When was you house built? Where did the bricks come from? Take a walk out of your door. Whats the name of your road? Why is it called it that? My road was named after the builder who built it. Who decided to build a road there? It was built by a property developer, and was one of the first houses along the road from Portsmouth to Southampton. Before then my neighbourhood was mainly pig farms! Even think about the road itself - when did tarmac start getting used for roads? Many roads started out as an ancient track, then the romans paved it, and it evolved over time into a modern road. Whats the name of your local pub? Chances are theres something historic about it. Within a mile of my workplace we have the Duke of Buckingham, the Duke of Wellington, the Still and West Tavern, the Spice Island Inn, and the Bridge Tavern - all of them steeped in history. History is even in the beers - Pompey Royal, Type 42 ale, Spitfire…
When you go to work, how do you get there? I always get the bus or the train. If I tried to walk eight miles to work people would think I was mad. Yet hundreds of years ago people would have regularly walked everywhere, because there was no other option. And I bet they didnt have nearly so much annual leave back then either! And not many people would have spent their working days sat at a desk indoors.
Look at the countryside - \'England\'s pleasant land\' hasn\'t always been like that: hundreds of years ago England was mainly woodland. Why was it cut down? What was it used for? All you have to do is look at HMS Victory and see just how many thousands of Oak trees were cut down to build ships. And much of the land that was cleared of trees was used for farmland.
In fact, you could say that History isnt really a subject itself -its just the art of looking at absolutely anything over time. You can find history anywhere and in anything. There is as much history to be found on a council estate as there is in any ancient town. Everywhere you go, and everything you do, there is history. And its not just in the bricks or the artefacts.. its in their stories.
In my mind, it is easier to say where History isn\'t. The answer? Thin air!
…well, technically you could talk about the history of physics and molecular science…'