Peter Foden

Unlocking the Codes of the Past

I Share

My University friend Scott once told me that I always used to begin conversations with ‘Did you know that….?’ Once I’ve discovered something, I can’t help wanting to share it. So teaching is one of my favourite activities. I regularly teach postgrad archive degree students at UCL how to read historical documents, and have also done this at the Keele University Palaeography Summer Schools, and at Exeter, Leicester and York.

Heritage Lottery Fund projects sometimes involve community learning, and so I have provided training to local historians in Hertfordshire and in Nottinghamshire. The Newark Hidden Histories volunteers were exploring a network of tunnels under their town, so it was going to be very useful to understand title deeds and other documents referencing land and property. It was atmospheric to meet in the back room of a pub in the old town, gathering around photocopies of examples from the archives. During the Pandemic, I have adapted to teaching online: screen sharing lends itself well to detailed analysis of handwriting and structured texts, and breakout rooms also facilitate learning through participation. 

Bangor University Archives

UCL where Peter teaches palaeography to postgraduate Archives and Records Management students

If you are running a volunteer history project and would like training in reading and interpreting your mediaeval or early modern sources, I’d be happy to help you. HLF likes to fund activities that develop local expertise, so this can sometimes be included in a funding bid. Please involve me at an early stage in the process if you would like to hire me for projects like Norton or Newark.

Training services:

  • Teaching Mediaeval and Early Modern Palaeography
  • Teaching archival research skills