Most historians and many archaeologists have seen a complete break, at least in physical terms, between the field systems of Roman Britain and the common or open fields of medieval England. If it is possible to unravel the relationships between pre-open field and open field boundaries in the Bourn Valley, west of Cambridge, between about 600 and 1100 AD, then a significant step forward might be taken in our understanding of the origins of medieval open field systems in general. We might begin to understand the processes through which the fields, woods and pastures that had developed over the prehistoric millennia and the Roman centuries were organised into a completely new landscape: that of the medieval open fields. Field work has uncovered preserved prehistoric field patterns in the medieval furlongs of the valley. The unexpected discovery of what appears to be an 8th Century or 9th Century proto-open field pattern enables the author to outline a new model for the introduction of common fields in England. It is illustrated throughout with maps and photos.
Susan Oosthuizen is Staff Tutor for Landscape History and Field Archaeology, and Associate Director of Outreach and Community Education at the Institute of Continuing Education at the University of Cambridge.
"The monograph is a careful, thorough and diligent study of a Cambridge landscape. It contains much that is new and thought-provoking."
- Robert Brooks, Local Population Studies
"Landscapes Decoded undoubtedly takes the study of medieval fields forward, presenting us with an exemplar of what a carefully analysed micro-regional study might achieve"
- Richard Jones, Medieval Archaeology
"This elegant monograph revives the Leicester series which included Finberg's 1955 Roman and Saxon Withington. It's a worthy successor."
- Paul Stamper, British Archaeology