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Patterns and hierarchies of rural settlement in Nottinghamshire before 1700

Unwin, Peter Timothy Holt (1979) Patterns and hierarchies of rural settlement in Nottinghamshire before 1700. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

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This study analyses the spatial and aspatial aspects of the settlement pattern of Nottinghamshire before 1700. Two crucial problems are encountered: firstly, much of the descriptive evidence must be taken from taxation documents which do not directly refer to settlements, and secondly the foundations of the medieval settlement pattern lay in the Anglo-Scandinavian period, for which remarkably little evidence survives in Nottinghamshire. The first of these difficulties is alleviated by treating townships as functional settlements, each based on a defined territory with a system of communal agriculture. The second, however, is more intransigent. Part I begins by reconstructing the territorial structure of the county within which the settlements existed. It then analyses the Anglo-Scandinavian and Norman settlement patterns in the light of Jones' model of the multiple estate and Taylor's exemplar of the polyfocal village. Chapter Four, which is critical to the argument, reveals that throughout the period 1100-1 TOO the overall rank-size distribution remained convex-upwards. Nevertheless, individual places did change in relative importance, and there is also evidence for the appearance of an urban hierarcy. In spatial terms, the early dominance of the south-east of the county was replaced by a more even distribution of rural settlements and wealth. Part II seeks explanations for these changes by studying individual settlements and by examining certain specific factors. It reveals that it is extremely difficult to produce generalised models concerning settlement development, but that the role of individual landlords appears to have been of fundamental importance. The presence of a large monastic house and the growth of rural marketing were also significant factors stimulating settlement growth. In conclusion, there is a vital need to re-evaluate our theoretical and abstract views concerning the nature of medieval settlement, both by undertaking detailed field research and also by drawing comparisons with contemporary processes.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Date:1979
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:14 Mar 2014 17:07

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