Castle Studies and the European Medieval Landscape: Traditions, Trends and Future Research Directions: Oliver Creighton


The decline of the ‘military paradigm’ in European castle studies is encouraging a host of new approaches that are emphasising the place of private fortification within the medieval landscape and the agency of lordship in its transformation. Yet research is dominated by regionally and nationally based approaches and wider perspectives are lacking. Scholarship that seeks to escape the constraints of national agendas and traditions is urgently needed. This paper establishes some starting points for the study of castles within their contemporary medieval landscapes on a pan-European basis, and addresses critically the notion that these settings embodied a common aristocratic ‘world view’. It is argued that future research should engage with the different political frameworks and structures of lordship through which the impact of authority on the landscape was manifested, as well as identifying areas of common experience. A number of emerging themes for future work are identified, including: the visual relationships between lordship sites and settings intended for leisure, pleasure and sensory impact; the imagery of elite landscapes in medieval romance literature; the contexts of castles within seascapes; the status of aristocratic landscapes as contested spaces; and the ecological signatures and impacts of castles.


Landscape formation in a Mediterranean country of the Middle Ages. Changes and continuity in Catalonia between the 6th and the 15th century: Jordi Bolòs


The history of settlements in Catalonia during medieval times bears a strong resemblance to that of other Mediterranean European countries. The origins of these medieval settlements can be traced to when Roman villae were abandoned during the Visigothic times. The work done so far proves that, up to the eleventh century, one could find, apart from cities, the presence of a large number of hamlets scattered throughout the territory and an equally large number of churches. During the eleventh and twelfth centuries, a network of settlements was consolidated around churches and castles in relation to new villages. Additionally, many areas saw an increase in scattered farmsteads. In those areas conquered by the Muslims, there was continuity in the types of settlement. As in Europe, the crisis of the fourteenth century brought about the abandonment of some villages and many farmsteads.

Settlement patterns and field systems in medieval Norway: Ingvild Øye

The paper gives a survey of settlement patterns and field systems in Norway c. 800–1500 AD based on archaeological evidence and contemporary written sources. As topography and climate varies considerably in a country that stretches across 13 degrees of latitude, the agricultural conditions vary accordingly, resulting in regional diversity in both settlement patterns and field systems. Separate, dispersed farms have for long been regarded as the predominant form of settlement for most of the country, but also clustered settlements seem to have been common along the western and north-western coast, at least from the Middle Ages up to the nineteenth century. The diversity of settlement and tenurial patterns as well as physical variations in the agricultural potential resulted in a variety of farm types and field systems. Scattered fields under more or less permanent cultivation without fallow periods were usual in larger parts of medieval Norway, especially to the west, while rotation of arable land was used in areas where the proportion between land and husbandry was less balanced and more extensive cultivable soils. Altogether, the Norwegian settlement patterns and field systems reflect both regional heterogeneity and variations within regions, but they also reveal similarities with neighbouring countries. 


Landownership and capitalism in eighteenth-century central Sweden: Birgitta Roeck Hansen

In the years 1718–1721, a large part of the crown-held farmland in Färentuna county was sold into private ownership and the land was transformed into taxable property. This privatisation of farmland was a beginning towards the more modern, large-scale and market-oriented agriculture that was to come.

        During the whole of the eighteenth century there was widespread interest in Sweden in the improvement of agriculture, not only as a topic of general interest at that time but also as an economic necessity after a war that had lasted some twenty years. Many of the persons of rank who owned and farmed taxable land in Färentuna county were governmental officials and therefore familiar with these issues in their official capacity. Documentary evidence from the 1790s shows that many of them were also interested in practising new ideas on their farms, thus spreading knowledge to the peasants and other landowners.



Dan Hicks, Laura McAtackney and Graham Fairclough (eds), Envisioning Landscape. Situations and standpoints in archaeology and heritage (Andrew Fleming)

Adam Stout, Creating Prehistory. Druids, ley hunters and archaeologists in pre-war Britain (Richard Hignley)

Adrian M. Chadwick (ed.), Recent Approaches to the Archaeology of Land Allotment (Andrew Fleming)

Paul Rainbird (ed.), Monuments in the Landscape (Bob Silvester)

Helen Chapman Davies, The Archaeology of Water (Trevor Rowley)

T. C. Smout, Exploring Environmental History. Selected essays (Rob Lambert)

Paul Davies, Snails. Archaeology and landscape change (Frank Chambers)

Ian D. Rotherham, Mel Jones, Lindy Smith and Christine Handley (eds), The Woodland Heritage. A guide to investigating wooded landscapes (Charles Watkins)

Peter Wakelin and Ralph A. Griffiths (eds), Hidden Histories. Discovering the heritage of Wales (Paul Stamper)

Vince Gaffney, Simon Fitch and David Smith, Europe’s Lost World. The rediscovery of Doggerland (Frances Lynch)

Zoran Roca, Theo Spek, Theano Terkenli, Tobias Plieninger and Franz Höchtl (eds), European Landscapes and Lifestyles. The Medierranean and beyond (Della Hooke)

Elisabeth Zadora-Rio (ed.), Des Paroisses de Touraine aux communes d’Indre-et-Loire. La formation des territories (Grenville Astill)

Jordi Bolòs (ed.), Estudiar i gestionar el paisatge històric medieval (Della Hooke)

Siriol Davies and Jack L. Davis (eds), Between Venice and Istanbul. Colonial landscapes in early modern Greece (Andrew Bevan)

Justine M. Shaw, White Roads of the Yucatan. Changing social landscapes of the Yucatec Maya (Penny Dransart)

Stephen Rippon, Beyond the Medieval Village. The diversification of landscape character in southern Britain (Tom Williamson)

Mary Siraut, Exmoor. The making of an English upland (Stephen Rippon)

Margaret Atherden and Tim Milsom (eds), Yorkshire Landscapes Past and Present (David Hey)

David Johnston, Ingleborough. Landscape and history (Ian G. Simmons)

Barbara Bender, Sue Hamilton and Chris Tilley, Stone Worlds. Narrative and reflexivity in landscape archaeology (Robert Johnston)

Mark Gillings, Joshua Pollard, David Wheatley and Rick Peterson (eds), Landscape of the Megaliths. Excavation and fieldwork on the Avebury Monuments 1997–2003 (Niall Sharples)

Helen Evans, Neolithic and Bronze Age Landscapes of Cumbria (Alex Gibson)

David Field, Use of Land in Central Southern England during the Neolithic and Early Bronze Age (Ann Woodward)

John Robert Travis, Coal in Roman Britain (Margaret L. Faull)

David Rudling (ed.), Ritual Landscapes of Roman and South-East Britain (Michael Fulford)

Beryl Lewis, Boundary Landscapes. A walk at Staunton on Arrow in Herefordshire to look for the boundary of an Anglo-Saxon estate (Della Hooke)

Billy Colfer, Wexford. A town and its landscape (Keith D. Lilley)

Brian K. Roberts, Landscapes, Documents and Maps. Villages in northern England and beyond. AD 900–1250 (Mark Gardiner)

Luke Barber and Greg Priestley-Bell, Medieval Adaptation, Settlement and Economy of a Coastal Wetland. The evidence from around Lydd, Romney Marsh, Kent (Jill Eddison)

Michael Audouy and Andy Chapman, Raunds. The origin and growth of a midland village AD 450–1500 (Mark Gardiner)

Pamela Hurle, The Forest and Chase of Malvern (Paul Stamper)

The Victoria History of the Counties of England: A History of the County of Stafford, volume X: Tutbury and Needwood Forest (Mark Riley)

The Victoria History of the Counties of England: A History of the Countyof York: East Riding, volume VIII East Buckrose: Sled mere and the Northern Wolds (D. M. Palliser)

Edward Martin, Wheare most Inclosures be. East Anglian fields: history, morphology and management (Christopher Dyer)

Nicola Whyte, Inhabiting the Landscape. Place, custom and memory, 1500–1800 (Matthew Johnson)

Jane Laughton, Life in a Late Medieval City. Chester 1275–1520 (Simon Ward)

Anne Rowe, Medieval Parks of Hertfordshire (Amanda Richardson)

R. C. Wheeler (ed.), Maps of the Witham Fens from the Thirteenth to the Nineteenth Century (Frances Willmoth)

Peter Herring, Adam Sharpe, John R. Smith and Colum Giles, Bodmin Moor. An archaeological survey. Volume 2: the industrial and post-medieval landscapes (Frances Griffith)

John Drake, Wood and Ingram. A Huntingdonshire nursery. 1742–1950 (Charles Watkins)

Susanna Wade Martins and Tom Williamson, The Countryside of East Anglia. Changing landscapes, 1870–1950 (Jeremy Burchardt)



Previous Volume        Landscape History Homepage        Next Volume

Landscape History


Volume 30 (2009) Issue 2