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    Open Fields of England

    By: David Hall

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    The Open Fields of England describes the open-field system of agriculture that operated in Medieval England before the establishment of present-day farms surrounded by hedges or walls. The volume encompasses a wide range of primary data not previously assembled, to which are added the results of new research based upon a fifty-year study of open-field remains and their related documents. The whole of England is examined, describing eight different kinds offield-system that have been identified, and relating them to their associated land-use and settlement. Details of field structure are explained, such as the demesne, the lords land, and the tenants holdings, as well as tenurial arrangements and farming methods.Previous explanations of open-field origins and possible antecedents to medieval fields are discussed. Various types of archaeological and historical evidence relating to Saxon-period settlements and fields are presented, followed by the development of a new theory to explain the lay-out and planned nature of many field systems found in the central belt of England. Of particular interest is the Gazetteer, which is organized by historic counties. Each county has a summary of its fields, including tabulated data and sources for future research, touching on the demesne, yardland size, work-service, assarts, and physical remains of ridge and furrow. The Gazetteer acts as a national hand-list of field systems, opening the subject up to further research and essential to scholars of medieval agriculture.

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