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Landscape, agency and enclosure: transformations in the rural landscape of north-east England

O'DONNELL, RONAN,PETER (2014) Landscape, agency and enclosure: transformations in the rural landscape of north-east England. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

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Five Northumberland townships were subjected to map-regression in order to identify and date changes in their landscapes resulting from enclosure and agricultural improvement during the post-medieval period (1500-1900). The townships examined were selected for the presence of documentary resources, and to include a wide range of environmental and tenurial conditions. The changes identified can be grouped into five categories: enclosure, farm consolidation, changes to land-use patterns, settlement dispersal and improvement. The examination of enclosure revealed that the most formal types, such as Parliamentary Enclosure, were only used in particularly contentious situations or where specific circumstances required them. Farm consolidation occurred throughout the period, though ring-fence farms were not created in every case. Importantly, the consolidation of farms rarely resulted directly from enclosure but from a piecemeal process which straddled enclosure. It was also found that the pre-enclosure pattern of land use, one of arable core and pastoral periphery, broke down following enclosure, though this was also by a piecemeal process. This thesis has also revealed the importance of settlement dispersal without village desertion, which has been neglected by previous studies. Again settlement dynamics have been shown to be locally contingent. Finally, agricultural improvement was found to be strongly correlated with changes in farm ownership and occupation, though the people involved acted as mediators of global trends in fashion and economics. The contingency of these events upon specific local circumstances means that none can be said to be determined by any one factor such as economy, environment, human agency or enclosure itself. None the less ‘global’ or large-scale factors including fashion and economics can be seen to be important in many of the events. Consequently, it was necessary to employ an Actor-Network approach in order to describe the ways in which different agencies were mediated locally.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:Landscape, Parliamentary Enclosure, Northumberland, Agricultural Improvement, Post-Medieval
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Social Sciences and Health > Archaeology, Department of
Thesis Date:2014
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:07 May 2014 11:39

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