Landuse

Throughout the region, especially Cumbria, large scale surveys have revealed new sites and expanded our knowledge of landuse. The knowledge of new sites enhances the base data used to initiate research and it is worth noting the contribution surveys are making to the period. However this needs targeted research and excavation programmes to further refine dating and usage patterns.

For example, the NMP covering Brampton to Birdoswald identified a handful of new medieval sites, mainly the remains of old farming practices such as ridge and furrow, holloways and small scale peat cutting (Small 2007). The Skiddaw Massif surveys identified and mapped possible late medieval pillow mounds, the first to be recorded in this part of Cumbria (MacLeod 2010). The Alston Moor North Pennines AONB Miner-Farmer Landscapes mapping focused on mining remains but also revealed remnant medieval field systems (Oakey et al 2012). In 2013 eleven areas of Cumbria, identified as under threat from mineral extraction, were mapped as part of the Cumbria Terrestrial Mineral Resource NMP (Fig 11). Late medieval features were few but a sequence of crofts and tofts were provisionally identified at Coalfell Beck, Brampton Kames (Deegan 2013).

Many surveys are using LiDAR data and GIS to present new data on late medieval landscapes and new research is now possible, especially if these surveys are integrated with the HLC and documentary evidence. The Western Lake District Mapping Project recorded new features such as those close to Lacra Farm and Seaton Hall, the latter of which may be associated with the site of a Benedictine nunnery (Deegan 2016). A similar mapping project in Cheshire revealed complex field systems on the western estuary of the Dee, water management features at Lyme Park and land management features east of Castletown, extending to Shocklach Castle (Hardwick 2017) (Fig. 12).

The National Archaeological Identification Survey (NAIS) Upland Pilot, Burton-in-Kendal and Dalton (both C) used aerial photographs and LiDAR to expand survey in an area already known for medieval landscape features. There was evidence for possible medieval stock management and a system of route ways (Hardwick 2014). The project was informed by the work of the Newmans. Their analysis of the Dalton settlement pattern concluded that some enclosures, previously interpreted as Romano-British, may be medieval stock control features and stressed the importance of reviewing previous assumptions made on the nature of upland earthworks in the region (Newman and Newman 2009).

National Trust historic landscape surveys have also recorded many possible medieval features. These surveys have included the Sizergh Estate, Acorn Bank, The Borrowdale Valley, Nether Wasdale, Buttermere and Loweswater and the East Coniston Woodland (all C). These comprehensive surveys include analysis of landscape development from historical documents and site gazetteers. Without excavation, it is difficult to establish the dates of origin for many of these features and excavation is a future research priority to ground truth interpretations. The large amount of data now collected offers opportunities for extensive regional syntheses on landuse patterns.

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