[ELH] Landscape History module: Assessment Projects

Landscape History 2002-3, Project options

Option 1 (Place-names)

The aim of this project is for you to use place-names shown on the OS One-Inch map in order to illuminate an historical problem which you find of interest.

Size of area. This should be no greater than that shown on one OS One-Inch sheet (not 1:50,000), i.e. 40km west to east by 45km south to north, though it is permissible for the area to span two or more such sheets.

Choice of area. You may wish to select an area which includes one or more administrative units of particular interest (e.g. a number of parishes or townships, or one or more hundredal units), or a topographical unit (e.g. a discrete drainage area within its watershed), or an area which is part of a single natural region or part of two contrasting regions - or some other selection which you must justify. An area spanning two contrasting regions often produces illuminating results. You must, however, address the whole 40km by 45km area in order to contextualise your results and thus help to validate them.

It is certainly wise to choose a county or region which interests you and with which you are familiar. This will save a good deal of time when you come to plotting place-names. The county or counties involved should be covered by the English Place-Name Society (see your bibliography) or by some other competent place-name study (of which there are few). Bear in mind that some of the interpretations in the older EPNS volumes have been superseded by more recent scholarship. For example, for -ingas names you may have to use the lists by Dodgson in Cameron, ed., Place-Name Evidence. You should check your understanding of place-name elements by referring to Smith, The Place-Name Elements, in the EPNS series.

Problem to be tackled. In the past, students have tackled a variety of problems. Here are some examples: names denoting woodland and woodland uses (clearly possible only in quite well-wooded areas, now or in the past); place-names and past land-use more generally; the delimitation of pays and contrasts in naming between pays; Scandinavian settlement; the balance between Scandinavian and Old English names; strata within Old English naming elements; a single type of element or two or three types (this last approach will work only in an area with many minor names, i.e. of dispersed settlement).

Limits of the study and useful material. The aim is to approach a problem largely through the place-names shown on the OS map. For example, you are not expected to make a thorough analysis of Domesday Book for your chosen area. But this should not prevent you from making intelligent use of other types of easily available material. Clearly you should be familiar with the general problems of use of place-names (see the bibliographies under Sorensen, Gelling and Wainwright).

Likewise, you should be familiar with the particular problems of the particular class(es) of place-name which you are using (again, see bibliography). Try to discern the analytical approaches of the works you read, and then follow their approaches yourself. You should look at anything which has been written about the early settlement history of the county or counties. If there is a volume in the Making of the English Landscape series, that helps. A rapid search through the last twenty years of publications by the relevant county or regional archaeological/historical society/societies is recommended. In addition, there may be specific papers in academic journals. An enquiry about the relevant county Sites and Monuments Record often produces excellent, recent evidence.

You will probably wish to become familiar with the geology and soils of your area: a rather old but still useful, starting point is the relevant county volume(s) in The Land of Britain, ed. L. D[udley] Stamp (Main Library). The relevant volume of the Domesday Geography, eds Darby et al. (FL, MR) can be useful; here you will find a simple map of regional divisions within your chosen county or counties; also the relevant volume in the Regional History of England series (if it is yet out) (some FL) and ditto the Origins of the Shires series (so far Cheshire, Hertfordshire, Lancashire, Norfolk, Suffolk, with Leicestershire forthcoming) (Main Library). Do not forget to make the maximum use of all features shown on the OS map: land-use (including woodland), roads and tracks, settlement siting, parish boundaries etc, as well as thenames themselves.

Tackling the research. We leave this to the individual. In part the project is an exercise in solving problems of research methodology. Having said that, it should be added that an obvious initial stage is to compile a list, with meanings, of all the place-names (or of those in the classes with which you are concerned ) in your chosen area, and to begin classification. The list should be given as an appendix to the project. Subsequent stages will be the plotting of names and the interpretation of distributions. To obtain an A4-size map of your distributions is not difficult, using the image reduction facility on a photocopier (or in your computer's graphics package).

Option 2 (Change in the landscape, through Enclosure to the twenty-first century)

The aim of this project is for you to take a village (preferably one known to you) whose fields, or most of them, were enclosed by Act of Parliament in the eighteenth or nineteenth century and to trace changes in the landscape - and reasons for them and their repercussions - into the twenty-first century. You will be concentrating on village morphology, buildings, the layout of fields and tracks. It is expected that you will comment on the spatial pattern of ownership directly after enclosure but no further (because to take it further would require examination of diverse sources: there is not time).

Minimum requirements are:
An enclosure award.
An enclosure map which shows allotment boundaries and the village's fields in detail (a pre-enclosure field map is helpful but not essential).
A six-inch or twenty-five inch map, 1st edition (1860s, 70s, 80s)
A six-inch or twenty-five inch map, 1st revision (sometimes called second edition, usually c. 1900).
Access to the fields. This is essential.
Access to the relevant record office. This, too, is essential. MR has some twenty-five inch and six-inch maps for Midland counties. The Geography Department may also be consulted for these. Record offices often hold them.

Please do not let this project run away with you. It is not a complete social and economic history of the village in the nineteenth century, but should concentrate upon enclosure. A guide to enclosure Acts and awards is W. E. Tate, A Domesday of English Enclosure Acts and Awards (1978) (FL, MR) but you should also consult the list in your record office (most have one). A guide to the dating of six- and twenty-five inch maps is J. B. Hartley, The Historian's Guide to Ordnance Survey Maps (FL, MR). On the course you will be issued with a bibliography concerning enclosure.

You should become familiar in a general way with the eighteenth- and nineteenth-century economic, agrarian and social history of that part of the county in which your village lies, but, again, do not let this reading run away with you: this is a project, not a dissertation.

[Leicester University] [*]
Last updated: 07 October 2002 20:57
Dr G.R. Jones

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