The Highland Zone in Domesday Book

  • W. G. Hoskins


Of all the many books written about Domesday, not one has explored its riches for a topographical study of eleventh-century England. This is part of the extraordinary neglect of historical topography to which O. G. S. Crawford drew attention in his Archaeology in the Field a few years ago;’ all the more odd because the very first book to be read in the nascent University of Oxford in the year 1184 — or the first book of which the title has come down to us — was the Topography of Ireland, read aloud to the assembled masters and scholars by Girald Cambrensis over the space of three whole days. As little time at Oxford has been devoted to the study of topography since then, one might suppose that Girald had effectively killed the subject by this solo performance.


Sixteenth Century Large Farm Parish Boundary Eleventh Century Large Estate 
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  1. 1.
    My estimate is based on J. C. Russell’s figures in British Medieval Population (1948), esp. pp. 53–4.Google Scholar
  2. 1.
    Dr H. P. R. Finberg identified ieeean stoc as Lower Eggbeer in The Early Charters of Devon and Cornwall (1953), p. 29. He translates stoe as (tree)-stump. but I take the meaning of stoe here to be ‘a place’, ‘a secondary settlement’, as instanced in A. H. Smith, English Place-Name Elements, Pt. II (1956), pp, 153–4. Stoe could also have the special meaning of ‘a cattle farm, especially an outlying one’, which would suit the site of Lower Eggbeer very well.Google Scholar
  3. 1.
    See W. G. Hoskins and H. P. R. Finberg, Devonshire Studies (1952), pp, 302–3.Google Scholar
  4. 1.
    Similar large and apparently original estates, dating back to the early days of the Saxon Conquest, are discernible in all other parts of Devon. Many of them are named after and based upon considerable rivers. Examples are Colyton and Otterton in east Devon, Teignton and Dartington in south Devon, and Plympton and Tamerton in the extreme south-west. There are many other examples of early and large estates based upon rivers, which suggests that they may all go back to the first days of the Saxon Conquest. For the chronology of this Conquest, see W. G. Hoskins, The Westward Expansion of Wessex (1960).Google Scholar
  5. 1.
    E. Juillard, A. Meynier, X. de Planhol, and G. Sautter, Structures Agraires et Paysages Ruraux (Nancy, 1957), esp. pp. 57–61.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© W. G. Hoskins 1963

Authors and Affiliations

  • W. G. Hoskins
    • 1
  1. 1.University of OxfordUK

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