Home Turf: An interdisciplinary exploration of the long-term development, use and reclamation of raised bogs in the Netherlands, R. van Beek, G.J. Maas and E. van den Berg

Raised bogs are popular research subjects in various scientific disciplines such as palaeobotany, climatology, archaeology and historical geography. However, interdisciplinary studies using a long-term cultural perspective are rare. This paper aims to make a contribution in that field by exploring the long-term development of raised bogs in the Netherlands, with a main focus on man-land relations. Central are the peatlands in the Pleistocene areas of the country that — with regard to peat inception, development, human use and exploitation — show patterns that are probably similar to those in larger parts of the North-west European Plain. Three spatial research levels are used. The first level offers a concise summary of the current knowledge level on bog development in the Netherlands and adjacent areas. The second level centres on the eastern Dutch region of Twente, and especially attempts to reconstruct the former maximum peat cover. In this region, as in most other parts of the Netherlands, hardly any peat remnants have survived to the present day. The third level consists of two detailed case-studies of smaller areas in Twente. This study shows that raised bogs, soon after they started developing, became intrinsic parts of settlement territories and were used in spatially and temporally varying ways. The assessment and integration of different types of data allows a more detailed and reliable reconstruction and analysis of long-term habitation patterns and man-land relations. The interdisciplinary approach also demonstrates which research deficits exist, allows new interdisciplinary questions to be asked and shows which methods may be applied in future studies.

Land of the free. Social contrasts in the Dutch ‘outlands’ (AD 1200‒1900), Bert Groenewoudt, Jan van Doesburg & Hans Renes

In the Netherlands, most high and dry land was settled and cultivated as early as the prehistoric period. Many lowlands, on the other hand, remained essentially unreclaimed until well into the Middle Ages. Since then these areas, too, have witnessed rapid change, physically as well as socially. Usually in medieval reclamation areas, under frontier-like conditions, settlers managed to become free farmers. This paper discusses the interesting two-faced character of the social developments in some of the ‘outlands’ along the margins of the ‘civilised world’. In some areas elite groups emerged or expanded, and castles and castle-like dwellings were shooting up far and wide, while wilderness areas were rapidly being transformed into highly productive arable land. Elsewhere smallholders and paupers settled, or were forced to settle involuntarily. In the latter cases the local economy was largely based on peat cutting and small-scale subsistence agriculture. Socially, outlands (reclamation areas) therefore took very different paths, which is still recognisable today. The history of these social contrasts is complex and deserves more research. Different opportunities as well as the ability and freedom to exploit them seem to have been key factors.

Moss Rooms and Hell Holes: the landscape of the Leyland Dispute Maps, 1571‒1599, William D. Shannon

Large-scale local maps are rare before the eighteenth century, so for one small district in the north-west of England to have seven such maps dating from the end of the sixteenth century is remarkable. These maps were produced in connection with land disputes heard before the Court of the Duchy of Lancaster and depict a mossland landscape where the absence of natural boundary markers, and a history as an intercommon rather than in single ownership, readily led to disputes between notably litigious neighbouring resident landlords; while the hearing of the cases in Westminster, rather than before local juries, generated the need for the maps themselves, to help the court understand this unfamiliar landscape. By definition single-purpose ephemeral objects, the maps nevertheless often contained more information than was strictly necessary for the case in hand and so were sometimes brought forward by the courts or copied by the litigants for reuse in later suits. The maps today can be regarded as texts which throw considerable light on, and help us to reconstruct, a lost landscape of living sphagnum moss, peat diggings and seasonal grazings, which at the time was regarded as typifying Lancashire but which has since entirely disappeared from the county, and indeed from England as a whole. The maps restore to us a district name, Wymott, lost since the seventeenth century; and they capture a landscape in transition, as the thinner peats were becoming exhausted and as much of the district was becoming enclosed, drained and converted to farmland.

Mapping peasant discontent: trespassing on manorial land in fourteenth-century Walsham-le-Willows, Susan Kilby

In recent years, it has largely been the domain of the landscape archaeologist to uncover and analyse the physical terrain of the late medieval manor. This has provided much material for the examination of ideas of rural power, control and social organisation. Considering the morphology of the settlement and adjacent fieldscape, it is rare, however, to reflect upon the views of the peasantry, who would after all have made up the majority of the population of rural communities. Using evidence gathered from fourteenth-century manorial court rolls, this study examines peasant attitudes to the rural landscape from an historical perspective through the analysis of incidences of trespass on demesne and peasant land in the Suffolk vill of Walsham-le-Willows. Unusually, these documentary sources frequently make reference to the specific location of peasant trespass allowing for a quantitative investigation that reveals something of the motivation behind these seemingly petty and notionally accidental incidents. Traditionally, cases of trespassing on neighbouring land have been considered only fleetingly by historians, since it is generally believed that many incidents were the result of accidental damage by wandering livestock, or that manorial officials used court fines as a means of licensing access. This study shows that the reality was far more complex, and that there was a range of motivational stimuli for these acts.


Tom Brindle, The Portable Antiquities Scheme and Roman Britain (Martin Pitts)

Alan Kolata, Ancient Inca (N. James)

Jan Harding, Cult, Religion and Pilgrimage. Archaeological investigations at the Neolithic and Bronze Age complex at Thornborough, North Yorkshire (Jim Leary)

Zosia Halina Archibald, Ancient Economies of the Northern Aegean, Fifth to First Centuries BC (Susan Sherrat)

Rob Atkins, Broughton, Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire: the evolution of a south Midlands landscape (Stephen G. Upex)

Alex Mullen, Southern Gaul and the Mediterranean. Multilingualism and multiple identities in the Iron Age and Roman periods (Ralph Häussler)

Rachel Moss (ed.), Art and Architecture of Ireland, Volume 1, Medieval Art and Architecture c.400–c.1600 (Eileen Rubery)

Alexandra Fletcher, Daniel Antoine and J. D. Hill (eds), Regarding the Dead: human remains in the British Museum (Nicholas Márquez-Grant)

Omür Harmanşah (ed.), Of Rocks and Water. Towards an archaeology of place (David Wheatley)

D. M. Palliser, Medieval York 600–1540 (Matthew Holford)

Steven Ashley and Adrian Marsden (eds), Landscapes and Artefacts: studies in East Anglian archaeology presented to Andrew Rogerson (Richard Hoggett)

Matilda Holmes, Animals in Anglo-Saxon and Scandinavian England (Kristopher Poole)

Charles Watkins, Trees, Woods and Forests. A social and cultural history (Della Hooke)

Sue Harrington and Martin Welch, The Early Anglo-Saxon Kingdoms of Southern Britain AD 450–650: beneath the Tribal Hidage (Simon Draper)

Brian Lacey, Medieval and Monastic Derry: sixth century to 1600 (Finbar McCormick)

Lydia Carr, Russell Dewhurst and Martin Henig (eds), Binsey: Oxford’s Holy Place. Its saint, village, and people (Eleanor Parker)

Evelyn Baker, La Grava: the archaeology and history of a royal manor and alien priory of Fonteveault (Carenza Lewis)

Sandra Sáenz-López Pérez, trans. Peter Krakenberger and Gerry Coldham, The Beatus Maps: the revelation of the world in the Middle Ages (Lucy Donkin)

David Hall, The Open Fields of England (Ronan O’Donnell)

William Tronzo, Petrarch’s Two Gardens: landscape and the image of movement (Caroline Holmes)

Simon Bradley and Nikolaus Pevsner, Buildings of England. Cambridgeshire (Adam Menuge)

Michael Kelly, Struggle and Strife on a Mayo Estate, 1833–1903. The Nolans of Logboy and their tenants (John Broad)

Martin Postle and Robin Simon (eds), Richard Wilson and the Transformation of European Landscape Painting (David Brown)

Peter Murphy, England’s Coastal Heritage (Dave Hooley)

Roger Burt, Raymond Burnley, Michael Gill and Alasdair Neill, Mining in Cornwall and Devon: mines and men (Louise Hollick)

Elizabeth McKellar, Landscape of London. The city, the country and the suburbs, 1660–1840 (Bob Silvester)

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Volume 36 (2015) Issue 2