As with any academic project it has become necessary for us to impose some restrictions on what we can class as a War Memorial. This has led us to use the following definition:
A War Memorial is any commemorative object which is dedicated to either individuals or groups, named or unnamed, who have died in battle or as a direct result thereof.
Under this definition we have weeded out a few niggles and avoided having to look around whole graveyards for a general who died having choked on a larger than average potato at his 78th birthday party. The definition also means that we miss out a few important places in the survey, as they cannot be classed as war memorials, but Monuments.
The most famous of these monuments on the Blackdown Hills is The Wellington Monument. Dedicated to the memory of (debatably) the most famous man in 19th century British warfare, the Wellington monument is exactly that: a Monument. The Duke of Wellington served all over the world throughout his career, especially in India, Spain and most famously at Waterloo in 1815. He was also lucky enough to survive the experience, come back, become prime minister and die at the ripe old age of 83. The people of Wellington, rightly being proud of their namesake, errected a 53m (175ft) high obelisk to him, but under this definition it is not a war memorial.
One of the reasons this project is important is because it records the names of those who died in conflict, most of whom remain unknown to any and all passers by. There are authorities on everyday subjects, but very few authorities on everyday people. Whilst it is not the aim of this project to research the lives of the people who are named on the memorials, it is one of our aims to enable people today to have access to information about those everyday working men who died in the conflicts of yesteryear. We hope that this project will lead in to other projects and that the data we collect will inspire and enable others to research relations listed on Blackdown Hills memorials.
Fieldwork is now finished, and by the end of September we hope to release an information leaflet to parishes on the Blackdowns and any interested Museums in the area. We are also working on a website to host all the data we have gathered and to give you further information about any follow-up projects we may undertake in the future. Watch this space!