The Making and Unmaking of the English Midland Landscape

Tom Williamson, Robert Liddiard, and Tracey Partida

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ISBN: 9780859898683

Publication: April 19, 2013

In the USA? Buy the Hardback US edition
Champion: The pattern of nucleated settlements and extensive open fields most commonly found within the landscape of the Midlands. This book presents a radical reinterpretation of the origins of villages and open fields, and their development in the late medieval and post-medieval periods, in the Midland, ‘champion’ areas of England. Most landscape historians believe that villages were created in the middle or later Saxon periods through the ‘nucleation’ of a formerly dispersed pattern of settlement, that many villages were initially laid out as planned, regular settlements and that open fields probably came into existence at the same time. Re-examination and mapping of the data suggests ‘nucleation’ is a myth, ‘village planning’ an illusion and open fields were created, at least in their classic, ‘regular’ forms, only in the eleventh or twelfth centuries.

Robert Liddiard completed a PhD at UEA in 2000 and has published on high-status landscapes in the Middle Ages.

Tom Williamson is Professor in Landscape History at UEA and published 'The Transformation of Rural England: Farming and the Landscape 1700-1870' (University of Exeter Press, 2002).

Tracey Partida is a consultant specializing in geographical information systems (GIS) and her PhD is in progress at University of Huddersfield.

Chapter 1: Introduction Why Northamptonshire? • Debating the Medieval Landscape • The Post-Medieval Landscape • Methodology Chapter 2: Structures of Landscape Geology and Topography • Climate and Soils • Territory and Topography • Late Prehistoric and Roman Settlement • Early and Middle Saxon Settlement • Territorial Organisation • Demographic and Agricultural Expansion • Conclusion Chapter 3: Medieval Settlement Introduction • Dispersion and Nucleation • Villages: Geology, ‘Cores’ and Expansion • Village Plans: Patterns of Earlier Land Use • Geology, Land Use and Plan Form • Regular Tofts and ‘Planning’ • Dispersed Settlements • Conclusion Chapter 4: Medieval Land Use: Field and Forest Introduction • Arable • Pasture • Meadow • Woodland and Forest • Heaths • The Antiquity of the Open Fields • Conclusion Chapter 5: The Post-Medieval Landscape Introduction • Tenure and Ownership • Enclosure • Modifying the Open Fields • The Chronology of Northamptonshire Enclosure • Enclosing the Forests • Enclosure and Land Use Change • The Impact of Enclosure • The Development of Rural Settlement • Conclusion Chapter 6: Northamptonshire in Context Woodland and Champion • The Characteristics of ‘Woodland’ Landscapes • Variations in the Medieval Landscapes of the Midlands • Variations in Post-Medieval Landscape and Agriculture • Woodland and Pasture • The Origins of Regional Variation • Explaining Regional Variation • The Implications of Post-Medieval Developments Chapter 7: Landscape: Time, Agency and Character Historic Landscape Character • Northamptonshire Field Patterns • Landscape and Agency

The work of Williamson, Liddiard, and Partida represents another landmark in the controversy, and our understanding and interpretation of the subject will not be the same again.
Mark Bailey   English Historical Review

This is an important book for all those interested in the development of the English landscape.  Clearly written and beautifully illustrated, Champion presents a strong central argument and a raft of stimulating secondary ideas. …This book enriches our understanding of landscape …

  Medieval Settlement Research Group

... the review quote to use is 'A substantial contribution to the literature ... Few studying the subject will be able to ignore such a book.
  Landscape History

This book represents the major output of a landscape project that, despite being focused on just one county, is undoubtedly of national significance.
Stephen Rippon  

A masterpiece of scholarship…using the best documented part of the ‘champion landscapes’ of the English Midlands, the authors have tackled what is arguably the most contentious topic in landscape history, the origins and development of villages and fields. The subject has been studied by historians, archaeologists and geographers for well over a century. Yet, despite the huge amount of work on it, especially over the last 20 years or so, no consensus has been reached on almost any aspect. This book is a truly great piece of work that would considerably advance the history of villages and fields.
Christopher Tayler  

Format: Hardback

Size: 248 x 177 mm

252 Pages

ISBN: 9780859898683

Publication: April 19, 2013

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