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To date, over sixty medieval parks have been identified in Hertfordshire – a large number for a relatively small county. In this ground-breaking study of parks created in Hertfordshire between the eleventh and the fifteenth centuries, author Anne Rowe has adopted a holistic approach to landscape history. The geographical locations of the parks have been determined and, in most cases, mapped using a combination of field- and place-name evidence, old maps and detailed fieldwork.
The documentary history for each park has been compiled, including, where available, details from manorial accounts, which provide an insight into park management in medieval times. All the data for each park is presented in a valuable gazetteer, together with the cartographic and field evidence which has been used to locate the parks in today's landscape.
In addition, Anne Rowe has carried out detailed analysis of the parks and their owners and explains how the parks related to the physical and social geography of the county in medieval times. There was a marked difference in the numbers of parks in different parts of the county: the density of parks in the east was double that in the west. The underlying reasons for this pattern are explored, focusing in particular on the unusual relationship between the distribution of the parks and the distribution of woodland in the county at Domesday.
Based on an enormous amount of original work, this meticulously researched book, Medieval Parks of Hertfordshire opens a window onto medieval Hertfordshire and illuminates a significant aspect of the county's landscape history.
Anne Rowe is a landscape historian. She is Research Co-ordinator for the Hertfordshire Gardens Trust and lectures in landscape and garden history for Cambridge Institute of Continuing Education, University of Cambridge and for the Workers' Educational Association. She is the author of 'The distribution of parks in Hertfordshire: Landscape, Lordship and Woodland' in The Medieval Park: New Perspectives (ed. Robert Liddiard, 2007) and a contributor to An Historical Atlas of Hertfordshire (ed. David Short), forthcoming from UH Press.