Encyclopedia of Global Archaeology

2014 Edition
| Editors: Claire Smith

Agrarian Landscapes of the Historic Period

  • Tom WilliamsonEmail author
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4419-0465-2_1312


Agrarian landscapes of the historic period have an often fragile archaeology. Most are still used to produce food, and the fences, walls, and hedges which form their principal remains, or the earthwork traces of earlier systems of farming and land division which survive within them, are thus vulnerable to destruction. Those living and working within what appear to be everyday, functional landscapes are often unaware of their antiquity or historical significance.

Definition and Historical Background

Across much of medieval Europe peasant communities exploited most uncultivated land in common. Grazed intensively for centuries, and cut for fodder, fuel, and much else, these areas developed as particular forms of habitat – with their own individual suites of flora and fauna – such as moorland, fens, or heaths. In addition, in many districts the arable land was farmed in “open fields,” in which the properties of cultivators lay intermingled in the form of narrow, unenclosed...

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Further Reading

  1. Conzen, M. 1990. The making of the American landscape. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  2. Danner, H. (ed.) 2005. Polder pioneers: the influence of Dutch engineers on water management in Europe 1600-2000. Utrecht: Universiteit Utrecht, Faculteit Geowetenschappen - Koninklijk Nederlands Aardrijkskundig Genootschap.Google Scholar
  3. Hall, D. 1992. Medieval fields. Aylesbury: Shire Archaeology.Google Scholar
  4. Miller, N. & K. Gleason. 1994. The archaeology of garden and field. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.Google Scholar
  5. Paillet, A. 2005. Archéologie de l’agriculture modern. Paris: Editions Errance.Google Scholar
  6. Pickard, J. 2010. Wire fences in colonial Australia: technology transfer and adaptation, 1842-1900. Rural History 21: 27-58.Google Scholar
  7. Rennes, H. 2010. Grainlands: the landscape of open fields in a European context. Landscape History 31: 37-70.Google Scholar
  8. Williamson, T. 2002. The transformation of rural England: farming and the landscape 1700-1870. Exeter: University of Exeter Press.Google Scholar
  9. - 2012. Environment, society and landscape in Early Medieval England: time and topography. Woodbridge, Suffolk: Boydell Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of HistoryUniversity of East AngliaNorwichUK