From House Detectives to Who Do You Think You Are, to Secrets of the Asylum, it seems the entire nation is delving into its collective past.

Now the New Forest National Park is about to go one better with a mammoth project to allow communities within its ancient boundaries to investigate their collective histories.

Heritage on My Doorstep is a pioneering initiative that will help Foresters to investigate and interpret their area’s past, before sharing their discoveries with the wider community.

The New Forest National Park Authority (NFNPA) will lead the project which will form part of the Our Past, Our Future Landscape Partnership Scheme, which is due to launch in 2016, once funding is confirmed.

With support from experts, training in archaeological and research skills, and grants from the Heritage Lottery Fund, the NFNPA says the project is an excellent opportunity to find out more about the buildings, people and nature that combine to form your area’s heritage.

In order to join and gain funding communities must have a pool of people to support the venture with time and investigations and must undertake a heritage project where they interpret and publicise their findings.

NFNPA member Marian Spain says: “The aim of this exciting four-year project is to empower local communities to research and promote their own heritage and interests.

“You can form a group to research anything and everything that interests you about your local area. It could be how your town or village was established, significant events such as the advent of war, or the history of a certain building, monument or person.”

The Landscape Partnership Scheme is led by the NFNPA working alongside several respected local and national partners, including the Beaulieu Estate, Commoners Defence Association, Environment Agency, Forestry Commission, Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust, National Trust, Natural England, New Forest Centre, and the New Forest Land Advice Service.

Supported by Heritage Lottery Funding, it will undertake a range of projects to restore lost habitats, develop Forest skills and inspire a new generation to champion and care for the New Forest.

Over the past few years – assisted by old-fashioned archaeology, research and cutting-edge technology – the Forest has been yielding its own secrets. Using LiDar – a remote sensing technology deployed from a light aircraft – the NFNPA has discovered a whole new world beneath the park’s vegetation, including an Iron Age fort and a Bronze Age barrow from around 2,000 BC.

It’s also been rediscovering the more recent past, with the discovery of anti-glider defences, used to thwart possible German invaders.

  •  For more details of how to get involved contact James Brown at or on 01590 646695.