Books  General Natural History  Archaeology 

The Open Fields of England

  • The first study to describe 100 years of pre-enclosure agricultural systems throughout England in one volume
  • Provides a useful Gazetteer, which covers field-systems in each of the English counties and opens the field up to future research in medieval agriculture
  • Offers detailed diagrams of the field types
  • Presents new data for Saxon-period sites
  • the latest research in the field
  • Emphasises the importance of Saxon-period data and its relevance to field systems

Series: Medieval History and Archaeology

By: David Hall(Author)

448 pages, 16 colour plates, 24 b/w illustrations

Oxford University Press

Hardback | Jun 2014 | #209065 | ISBN-13: 9780198702955
Availability: Usually dispatched within 6 days Details
NHBS Price: £84.99 $110/€93 approx

About this book

The Open Fields of England describes the open-field system of agriculture that operated in Medieval England before the establishment of present-day farms surrounded by hedges or walls. The Open Fields of England encompasses a wide range of primary data not previously assembled, to which are added the results of new research based upon a fifty-year study of open-field remains and their related documents. The whole of England is examined, describing eight different kinds of field-system that have been identified, and relating them to their associated land-use and settlement. Details of field structure are explained, such as the demesne, the lord's land, and the tenants' holdings, as well as tenurial arrangements and farming methods.

Previous explanations of open-field origins and possible antecedents to medieval fields are discussed. Various types of archaeological and historical evidence relating to Saxon-period settlements and fields are presented, followed by the development of a new theory to explain the lay-out and planned nature of many field systems found in the central belt of England.

Of particular interest is the Gazetteer, which is organized by historic counties. Each county has a summary of its fields, including tabulated data and sources for future research, touching on the demesne, yardland size, work-service, assarts, and physical remains of ridge and furrow. The Gazetteer acts as a national hand-list of field systems, opening the subject up to further research and essential to scholars of medieval agriculture.


Preface and acknowledgements
Introduction: medieval fields and the landscape

1. Townships and land-use
2. Field system types; the extensive fields of the Central Region
3. Field system types in the Eastern and Western Regions
4. Open-field structure and management
5. Early evidence for settlement and fields
6. Open field beginnings

Appendix: County Gazetteer

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David Hall studied chemistry at St Peter's College, Oxford, but has worked in the field of archaeology for over fifty years. He has published extensively on British archeology and the history of field-systems.

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