Monastic enterprise in town and countryside: two case studies from north-east Shropshire: Michael Fradley

This paper examines the development of small medieval towns through a study of multi-disciplinary evidence of monastic activity in and around embryonic market settlements in north-east Shropshire. By comparing the parallel agendas of monastic landlords in these small towns and the surrounding countryside it will establish a connection that appears fundamental to the development of these settlements. In turn the relationships between these activities and neighbouring castle sites are examined in the context of influence in the local landscape. 

Conflict in the landscape: the enclosure movement in England, 1220–1349: Christopher Dyer

Between 1220 and 1349 groups of people destroyed enclosure banks, hedges and fences in defence of their common rights. Many law suits were provoked by encroachments on common pastures. This reflected the importance of an enclosure movement which had its main impact in wooded, upland or wetland landscapes. It led to large areas being taken out of common use, and a growing proportion of land being controlled by individuals. The beneficiaries of enclosure included the lords of manors, but also landholders below the gentry. The opponents of the movement had some success in preserving areas of common pasture.

Rowland Vaughan and the origins of downward floated water-meadows: a contribution to the debate: Christopher Taylor, Nicky Smith and Graham Brown

Rowland Vaughan, a Herefordshire landowner, has often been credited with the invention in the early seventeenth century of downward floated water-meadows or bedworks. However, a recent survey of the remains of water-meadows on the land in the Golden Valley owned by Vaughan has shown that the irrigation systems there were catchworks, a form of water-meadow that existed all over Europe by the thirteenth century. This conclusion has been reinforced by the discovery of a map in a copy of an early seventeenth-century book by Vaughan. This map also appears to show catchworks on his land. It is thus clear that Vaughan was not the inventor of bedworks and that they were probably developed in the later sixteenth century somewhere in Wessex.

In Darkest England: European exploration in Africa and its effects on 19th and 20th century perceptions of prehistoric Britain: Martin Tingle

From the sixteenth century, antiquarians regarded the ‘savage’ inhabitants of remote ‘uncivilised’ countries as a model for the inhabitants and the landscape of ancient Britain. At the end of the nineteenth century important figures in the newly emerging discipline of archaeology were influenced both by contemporary accounts of equatorial Africa and the tenets of Darwinism. This led them to propose that the apparent concentration of prehistoric monuments on chalk and limestone uplands resulted from the whole of prehistoric lowland Britain being covered by a dense, impenetrable and uninhabitable jungle, which  remained in existence until it was cleared by the Anglo-Saxons. This model, although contested by some from the 1930s onwards, remained a central tenet of archaeological thought until the 1970s, by which time evidence from palaeobotany, aerial survey and surface collection rendered it untenable. 

The Marais Vernier: a landscape biography: Hugh Clout

From being viewed as ‘waste’ in need on ‘improvement’ many wetlands in the developed world are now perceived as valuable habitats enjoying protected status. The peatlands and alluvial terrain of the Marais Vernier form one such area, where numerous conflicts arose over the centuries regarding the ‘appropriate’ use of land. During the seventeenth century, Dutch drainage engineers constructed an embankment to protect the ‘old marsh’ from the River Seine. The scheme met with only partial success and was followed by many proposals for improvement.  Reclamation of mudflats and alluvial deposits in the nineteenth century, partly to improve navigation, proved successful and increased the surface of the Marais Vernier. In the wake of World War II, attempts at thorough drainage and intensive cultivation failed. Thereafter, the Marais Vernier was reappraised as part of the ‘green zone’ to separate the spread of urbanisation between Rouen and Le Havre. In 1974 the wetlands, with their migratory birds and stretches of common land for grazing and hunting, were incorporated into a regional nature park whose dual aim is nature conservation and sustainable development. From being contested ‘agricultural space’ across the centuries, the Marais Vernier has become a hybrid of ‘conservation and recreation space’ in which conflicts of land-use interest still require tactful management.

From Marx to Brussels: agriculture and landscape in twenty-first century Europe: Mark Blacksell

The transition from Marxism to a Western dominated market economy in Central and Eastern Europe since 1990 has had far-reaching effects on the rural economy and landscapes of the region. This paper examines the impact of the changes. The accession to the European Union in 2005 of eight former Communist states and how they are being integrated into the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) is given added relevance for two reasons. First, the CAP is a largely uniform policy trying to cater for the needs of the very varied agricultural industry in twenty-five states across Europe and, thus, in rather a perverse way, it mirrors the attempted uniformity of collectivisation in the former Communist controlled parts of the continent. Second, the CAP itself is undergoing a radical transformation as politicians attempt to shift the main focus of its activities from production subsidies to a more broadly conceived sustainable rural development strategy and, thus, make the CAP more compatible with the global drive for reduced levels of national protection for agriculture. The paper concludes that for these changes to be managed effectively and sustainably there must be publicly-led regional strategies in place.

Reviews

 

Previous Volume        Landscape History Homepage        Next Volume

Landscape History

 

Volume 28 (2006)