Interpreting the Landscape: Landscape Archaeology and Local History
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Most places in Britain have had a local history written about them. Up until this century these histories have addressed more parochial issues, such as the life of the manor, rather than explaining the features and changes in the landscape in a factual manner. Much of what is visible today in Britain's landscape is the result of a chain of social and natural processes, and can be interpreted through fieldwork as well as from old maps and documents.
Michael Aston uses a wide range of source material to study the complex and dynamic history of the countryside, illustrating his points with aerial photographs, maps, plans and charts. He shows how to understand the surviving remains as well as offering his own explanations for how our landscape has evolved.
do not have churches, manor houses and mills; indeed most of the countryside today is worked from single farms isolated in the middle of their own holdings. Many areas in the Middle Ages did not have true villages. In Cornwall, parts of Devon, western Somerset, and the Welsh borderlands, in particular, medieval settlement was predominantly in the form of hamlets and farmsteads. In these areas we should not expect to find deserted, shrunken or moved villages, but the equivalent for hamlets and
property alignments. Earlier elements in many cases seem to consist of much smaller settlements, either in the form of farmsteads or hamlets. Sometimes, these remain in the landscape or are incorporated into complex village plans; elsewhere, they were abandoned in what seems to have been wholescale replanning and resiting of villages. In many cases, these hamlets had churches which had survived to become parish churches, or were demolished, or forgotten, as at Raunds. In the north we have seen
resources, other settlements or influencing factors occur is therefore fundamental to settlement siting. Following on from this: 2 Locational decisions are taken in general so as to minimise the frictional effects of distance. Put another way, people are usually trying to gain the maximum return for the minimum effort, in settlement siting as in much else. 3 All locations are endowed with a degree of accessibility, but some locations are more accessible than others. Accessibility is difficult to
physical nature of the land: changes may have taken place in any period under the influence of the technical abilities, and social and economic conditions prevailing at any time. LAND USES TWO CASE STUDIES OF LAND USE The case of Deerhurst in Gloucestershire may serve as a useful example to show what can be learned about early land use and also to indicate some of the pitfalls. During the research project into the architectural and archaeological development of the Saxon church of St Mary at
Report No. 13 (1976) J.H.BETTEY Church & Community: The Parish Church in English Life (Moonraker, Bradford on Avon, 1979) W.RODWELL The Archaeology of the English Church (Batsford, 1981) ERIC GRANT (ed) Central Places, Archaeology and History (University of Sheffield 1986) especially M.Aston ‘PostRoman Central Places in Somerset’ pp. 49–77 T.UNWIN ‘The Norman aggregation of estates and settlement in eleventh-century Nottinghamshire’ Landscape History 9 1987 pp. 53–64 R.A.ADKINS and M.R.PETCHEY