Environment, Society and Landscape in Early Medieval England: Time and Topography

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Boydell Press, 2013 - History - 270 pages
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The Anglo-Saxon period was crucial in the development of England's character: its language, and much of its landscape and culture, were forged in the period between the fifth and the eleventh centuries. Historians and archaeologists have long been fascinated by its regional variations, by the way in which different parts of the country displayed marked differences in social structures, settlement patterns, and field systems. In this controversial and wide-ranging study, the author argues that such differences were largely a consequence of environmental factors: of the influence of climate, soils and hydrology, and of the patterns of contact and communication engendered by natural topography. He also suggests that such environmental influences have been neglected over recent decades by generations of scholars who are embedded in an urban culture and largely divorced from the natural world; and that an appreciation of the fundamental role of physical geography in shaping human affairs can throw much new light on a number of important debates about early medieval society. The book will be essential reading for all those interested in the character of the Anglo-Saxon and Scandinavian settlements, in early medieval social and territorial organization, and in the origins of the England's medieval landscapes. Tom Williamson is Professor of Landscape History, University of East Anglia; he has written widely on landscape archaeology, agricultural history, and the history of landscape design.
  

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Contents

Introduction
1
1 Settlement and Society
6
2 Natures Frame
36
3 Culture Ethnicity and Topography
61
4 Small Shires Deep Roots
82
5 The Gradient of Freedom
107
6 Two Countrysides?
125
7 Village Farm and Field
147
8 Landscape and Settlement
184
9 Woodland and Pasture
207
Time and Topography
234
Bibliography
247
Index
263
Backcover
273
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About the author (2013)

Tom Williamson is professor in landscape history at the University of East Anglia, and the author of "the Transformation of Rural England: Farming and the Landscape 1700-1870", also published by the University of Exeter Press.

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