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Making Sense of an Historic Landscape$
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Stephen Rippon

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199533787

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:osobl/9780199533787.001.0001

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Patterns of land use: documentary evidence and palaeoenvironmental sequences

Patterns of land use: documentary evidence and palaeoenvironmental sequences

(p.205) 11 Patterns of land use: documentary evidence and palaeoenvironmental sequences
Making Sense of an Historic Landscape

Stephen Rippon

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines regional variation in farming practice across the different pays of South West England. The assessment of some easily accessible documentary sources suggests that there were indeed marked regional variations in agricultural regimes across the study area, with some long-lasting patterns such as the generally mixed farming regimes to the west of the Blackdown Hills, and some more specialized husbandry to the east. Within this big picture of regional variation, there were also very marked local variations between particular pays such as dairying in the Somerset lowlands and sheep and corn husbandry on the chalk downland. Palaeoenvironmental sequences show that the lowland areas of the South West and western Wessex were extensively cleared of trees by the late prehistoric period, although more woodland survived in hilly/upland areas such as the Blackdown Hills. The Roman period saw some intensification both to the east and the west of the Blackdowns, and while there may have seen some reversal of this in the early medieval period particularly in more Romanized areas to the east, there was no extensive woodland regeneration.

Keywords:   land use, regional farming, farming practice, South West England, landscape character, historic landscapes, pays

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