of the landscape at the time of the Domesday Book (1086)
population was about 1¼ million., of whom 1 in 10 lived in the
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
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.
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.
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
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.
Þ Between 500-600 monasteries
Þ Also rich in abbeys,
priories, and cathedrals.
Þ 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
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 Trent was bridged at Nottingham as early as
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.