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The Fields of Britannia: Continuity and Change in the Late Roman and Early Medieval Landscape

  • The first major study into the real impact of the 'end of Roman Britain' on the British countryside
  • Presents the first overview of regional variation in Romano-British and early medieval agricultural practices
  • Reveals the true extent to which Roman field systems have survived in use through to the present day, shaping the character of the modern British countryside
  • Highlights issues for commercial archaeology in relation to the need to contextualize the results of excavations within the historic landscape
  • Includes a vast range of illustrative material

By: Stephen Rippon(Author), Chris Smart(Author), Ben Pears(Author)

480 pages, 111 b/w illustrations, tables

Oxford University Press

Hardback | Oct 2015 | #225213 | ISBN-13: 9780199645824
Availability: Usually dispatched within 6 days Details
NHBS Price: £89.99 $116/€99 approx

About this book

It has long been recognized that the landscape of Britain is one of the 'richest historical records we possess', but just how old is it? The Fields of Britannia is the first book to explore how far the countryside of Roman Britain has survived in use through to the present day, shaping the character of our modern countryside. Commencing with a discussion of the differing views of what happened to the landscape at the end of Roman Britain, The Fields of Britannia then brings together the results from hundreds of archaeological excavations and palaeoenvironmental investigations in order to map patterns of land-use across Roman and early medieval Britain.

In compiling such extensive data, The Fields of Britannia is able to reconstruct regional variations in Romano-British and early medieval land-use using pollen, animal bones, and charred cereal grains to demonstrate that agricultural regimes varied considerably and were heavily influenced by underlying geology. We are shown that, in the fifth and sixth centuries, there was a shift away from intensive farming but very few areas of the landscape were abandoned completely. What is revealed is a surprising degree of continuity: the Roman Empire may have collapsed, but British farmers carried on regardless, and the result is that now, across large parts of Britain, many of these Roman field systems are still in use.


List of Figures
List of Tables
List of Appendices
List of Abbreviations

1: Fields of Britannia: A Roman Legacy in the British Countryside
2: A Regional Approach to Studying Landscape
3: A Landscape Approach to the Roman-medieval Transition
4: The South East
5: East Anglia
6: The Central Zone
7: The South West
8: The Western Lowlands
9: The North East Lowlands
10: The Northern Uplands
11: Upland and Lowland Wales
12: Discussion and Conclusions


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Stephen Rippon is Professor of Landscape Archaeology at the University of Exeter. Chris Smart is an Associate Research Fellow in the Department of Archaeology at the University of Exeter. Ben Pears is an Honorary Research Associate at the University of Exeter.

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