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Settlement, Agrarian systems, and field patterns in central Durham, 1600 - 1850: a study in historical geography

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  • Agricultural Science
  • Political Science


The thesis is concerned with the study of changes in the landscape over a small area in Central Durham composed largely of Brancepeth Estate lands. A broad general outline of landscape evolution right across the county is given in order to provide a background against which to see this local study. Then, using estate records, a description is given of the area 1840-50, and several elements in the landscape are identified as important before being examined individually. The section on organisational features deals with the political, civil; and ecclesiastical framework underlying landscape and attempts to assess its importance on landscape change. The main body of the work concentrates on two main aspects of landscape, settlement, and land use and field patterns. The chapter on settlement is concerned mainly with the nucleated settlements in the area of study and identifies certain morphological characteristics which can be found on a much wider scale. Similarly, it would appear that with regard to its agricultural practice over much of the period the area was fairly typical of much of the county, although by the beginning of the nineteenth century forward looking stewardship had done much by way of innovation. Enclosure is seen as one aspect of the irhole question of agrarian change. Byers Green is anomalous here, providing something of a contrast although discrepancies between the source materials relating to lands here as opposed to those in Brancepeth prevented much useful comparison. The work is drawn together with a description of landscape circa 1600 which provides an artificial base-line in time against which to see and evaluate the changes in landscape over the following two hundred and fifty years. In conclusion, emphasis is laid once more upon the importance of the underlying framework - particularly that of landownership – in any landscape evolution.

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