The Research Process
Many historic highways fell out of use because they were no longer used by the public. To avoid re-instating rights of way with no modern value, PATHH only looked at areas where improved access to the countryside would be beneficial.
To identify these places, the project relied on Hampshire County Council’s Countryside Access Plans. When these documents were drawn up in 2008, a consultation allowed the public to comment on where the rights of way network could be improved and expanded.
These suggested network improvements were plotted on a Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Database; a system that allows geographic data to be presented spatially on a digital map.
The volunteers are trained to use the facilities at Hampshire Record Office and interpret the four types of map. Research is carried out on a parish by parish basis and requires the volunteers to identify historic evidence for each potential right of way that has been identified in the Countryside Access Plan consultation.
The evidence gathered from the four maps used by the PATHH project is not sufficient historic evidence to re-instate a right of way. However, the PATHH project research is enough to assess the likelihood of there being sufficient historic evidence for a definitive map amendment to be made.
Once the research results have been collected, the routes that demonstrate the strongest evidence are to be presented to Hampshire County Council as applications for definitive map modification orders.
Anyone interested in carrying out similar research can make use of the guidebook issued to volunteers, available here.