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Beyond the Medieval VillageThe Diversification of Landscape Character in Southern Britain$
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Stephen Rippon

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780199203826

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199203826.001.0001

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Abbots, Bishops, Thegns, or Communities: Who was Responsible for Somerset's Champion Countryside?

Abbots, Bishops, Thegns, or Communities: Who was Responsible for Somerset's Champion Countryside?

Chapter:
(p.61) 3Abbots, Bishops, Thegns, or Communities: Who was Responsible for Somerset's Champion Countryside?
Source:
Beyond the Medieval Village
Author(s):

Stephen Rippon (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199203826.003.0003

This chapter explores who was responsible for shaping the character of the medieval landscape in Somerset. The potential role of Glastonbury Abbey is examined through a comparison of their manors across Somerset and Devon. It is argued that they had a relatively ‘hands‐on’ approach, in contrast to the bishops of Wells who appear to have had less interest in how their estates were managed. There is no correlation between landownership in Domesday and landscape character (e.g. areas with and without villages and open fields), nor with a series of large territories that appear to have existed in the earliest centuries of the medieval period. It is therefore suggested that the physical restructuring of the countryside in some areas was part of the process whereby these estates fragmented and eventually became manors.

Keywords:   Somerset, Glastonbury Abbey, bishops of Bath and Wells, villages, open fields, reclamation

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