SEVEN centuries of history are on the move as one of the most comprehensive archives in Britain is moved to a new home.

A fleet of lorries is transporting more than 700 years of northern history to a multi-million pound base.

The archives, ranging from the wills of Charlotte Bronte and explorer Martin Frobisher to Lord Halifax's family documents, date back as far as 1320.

They are housed for the Borthwick Institute in St Anthony's Hall, a 15th Century former religious guildhall in York city centre, which has been its home for more than 50 years.

However, it is now moving to a building on the York University campus that has been built at a cost of £6.5m - including £4.4m from the National Lottery.

Designed to ensure the collection is kept in optimum conditions, the premises will provide a huge family history archive containing details of baptisms, marriages and burials stretching back centuries.

A 12-week operation is under way to move the collection into the new building which has strongrooms with concrete walls 300mm thick designed to maintain a constant temperature and humidity. Every window is ultra-violet filtered.

The Borthwick's collection, based originally on the Archive of the Archbishopric of York, includes a huge range of items including thousands donated by individuals, companies and organisations, as well as the biggest inventory of wills outside the National Archives.

The institute has outgrown St Anthony's Hall where the accommodation even in 1953, was described as "not very suitable" by the then deputy keeper of the Public Records, Sir Hilary Jenkinson.

* The archive of the Archbishopric was originally moved from York Minster as part of a campaign to attract a university to the city.

Using a bequest from William Borthwick, a Bridlington perfumier, a research institute based on the archive was established.