Alterations to the Medieval Landscape
Characteristics of the landscape at the time of the Domesday Book (1086)

Total population was about 1 million., of whom 1 in 10 lived in the boroughs.
      North-South divide evident. In N. England, population density was less than 4 people per sq. mile compared to S. England which had a population density of between 20 and 50 people per sq. mile.
      Some clearance since Saxon times, but the population and their effects were scattered. Some land was still unused.
      Marshland was still prevalent across much of the extremes (Duchy/upland areas)
      Appearance of water mills by the 8th century. They spread across E. England and the Midlands. About 6000 mills are recorded in the Domesday Book. Their prevalence decreased with westward progression.
      Norman conquest brought the country church. Started in the 6th century. Domesday book does not record the churches specifically, estimated at between several hundred to several thousand in existence.
      Majority of the modern villages were in existence. Poorly defined frontiers separated the more remote villages.
      Villages and hamlets surrounded by open field system from Saxon times.
      More difficult farming regions characterised by highly irregular field patterns. Rocks were incorporated or worked around. Often used as hedge boundaries. Best exemplified in granitic regions. Field shapes depended upon the type of plough in use in the particular region.
      not entirely rural. Some resurgence of Romano-British towns, and establishment of others.
      Many towns retained original Roman features, e.g. Exeter, Chester.

Clearing the Woodlands
      Much of England was still thickly wooded, even in long inhabited districts.
      Generally, oak/ash on clay soils. Beech dominated on chalk/limestone. Hills were dominated by silver birch and lowland valleys were dominated by elms, maples and limes.
      Survey of 1310 shows more than 600 acres were cleared in recent assarts (from Old Fre. ‘essarter’ to grub up trees). Still over 500 acres remaining.
      Most woodland was cleared and turned in to arable or pasture land by individuals in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. Created new villages and fields.
      ‘Woodhouse’ as a village name derives from village in the woods.
      In other forested parts, both types of landscape appeared; old villages enlarging their open fields, and new hamlets and farmsteads being created amidst small irregular fields surrounded by earthen hedge banks.
      Much of the surviving forest was royal game preserves, subject to forest law. Anglo-Saxon Kings had large parks for hunting, which were guarded against poachers.
      Reached the greatest extent under Henry II, when Royal Parks may have covered up to 1/3 of the country.
      The existence of the game preserves discouraged new settlement and made farming difficult.
      New colonisation of wastelands was encouraged by the King (Richard I and John) by paying lump sums for steady disafforestation.
      The importance to the people was shown by the cost of disafforestation; in 1204 John was paid 5000 marks by the men of Devon to have the county disafforested. (Equivalent to 300-400k).
      Game preserves of feudal magnates were the predecessors of country house parks, e.g. Knowsley est. 1292.

Marsh, Fen and Moor.
      The first settlements in The Wash were the nucleated villages. All lie along a bed of silt above the marsh.
      The first Old English settlers made homes in this area, circa 7th Century.
      Marshland villages were still few and small at the end of the 11th Century, the fen and marshland were hardly touched.
      Major construction of banks and ditches between 1150 - 1300.
      Fen reclamation was carried out by whole communities, feudal magnates, ecclesiastical powers etc.
      Coinciding with the embanking was an advance seaward of the villages.
      This reclamation was carried out across most of the marsh land of England, in particular around abbeys and monasteries.
      The reclamation brought hundreds of sq. miles of land in to cultivation, and produced a characteristic landscape of willow-lined ditches, rich green pastures for sheep and scattered farmsteads. It is noted for its irregularity of shape and size.
      Evidence from Saxon charters shows us that the value of upland pastures was well noted.
      The monasteries, especially the Cistercian houses, were responsible for major changes to the landscape from the 12th century onwards. These changes included the large scale drainage of marsh and fen, the clearance of woodland and the extension of sheep farming on the granges. They were located in the Dales and the Welsh valleys.
      Monastic granges were created for arable farming or sheep grazing, dependent upon the local soil type.
      The effect of the granges upon the moor lands was limited, the majority of work on the moors done by individuals.
      Above a certain altitude, the high moor land was not worth reclamation. It was incapable of supporting medieval peasants, and was left to mountain sheep.
Buildings of the Medieval Period
      By the eve of the Black Death, the population was 3 times that of Domesday, c. 4m in all.
      Hundreds of thousands of acres of land had been reclaimed and many new towns, villages and farmsteads had appeared. The main change was the number of buildings.
      Monastic/Ecclesiastical Buildings;
  Between 500-600 monasteries in England.
  Also rich in abbeys, priories, and cathedrals.
  Several thousand parish churches had been built, mostly between 1150-1250.
      New mill types;
  Windmill, first recorded in the reign of Richard I, and spread rapidly S and E. Early 19th Century survey shows 212 mills in Essex. Conspicuous feature, but now mainly derelict.
  Fulling mill, first heard of in 1185, much more localised. All now disappeared.
  Many created in ‘borough fever’ in 12th and 13th century.
  All classes of landowner, King, Bishops and Abbots, lay magnates all founded towns.
  Richard I founded Portsmouth in 1194.
  King John gave Liverpool its first charter in 1207.
  Plymouth was founded by the priors of Plympton in the middle of the 13th century.
  Bishop of Worcester created a ‘suburb’ of Stratford upon Avon in 1196.
      Towns solidified the road network connecting them, and led to the creation many road bridges.
  Important since Saxon times
  Built of wood at first, and then replaced by stone bridges. Stone bridges were sufficiently rare in the 12th and 13th century to be recorded in the charters of the time.
  The Trent was bridged at Nottingham as early as 924.
      Castles made their appearance in the late 11th Century. Nearly every important town had one.
      In some places where a castle was built on a strategically good site, an entirely new town grew up beside it, to support it and enjoy the protection it offered, e.g. Launceston, Newcastle upon Tyne, and Devizes.
      Castles were all over England by the 14th century, but not of uniform distribution. Kent had 40, Devon 8.