Villages and fields of the English Landscape
The Anglo Saxon settlement was spread over a period of about 20 generations, between 450 and 1066 AD.
· The Anglo Saxon village can be found all over England, and is the predominant form of settlement in many areas.
· The village is usually accompanied by an open field system.
· It probably consisted of two large fields, one each side of the village. These grew by accretion by generation.
· The unit of cultivation was the strip, about ½ to 1/3 of an acre in size. Groups of strips made up a furlong, and the field was made up of groups of furlongs.
· The villages may have been predated by earlier settlements, and have been constructed upon the site of Romano-British or even Celtic settlements.
· Many isolated farmsteads remain from Saxon times, and many pasture lands were cleared by fire, their names, e.g. Swithland (place cleared by burning) still hark back to these times.
· Timber provided a sizeable income, and was used for building of houses, ships and churches, in making farming and household tools and repairing and for domestic fuel.
· Fire was a desperate expedient, usually employed in a frontier economy. In a settled economy, grazing animals prevented the regeneration of the forest by consumption of the seeds.
Shape of Villages
Other influences on the landscape
Large estates - the boundary lines of the larger estates were marked by double ditches, which remain as sunken lanes. These can be found in Cornwall. The larger estates with more money employed armies of slave labour to create rampart walk half way up hills.
Example; Armourwood Lane, near Thorverton. 7th century boundary between the Silverton Royal Estate and the Exeter Abbey Estate.
Scandinavian influence - was mainly naming influence, e.g. the numerous -thwaites of Cumberland and Westmorland. They did not introduce any new farming methods, but imitated the Old English techniques of the area.