• A STUDY OF ‘COMMON-EDGE DRIFT’ IN NORFOLK

    Author(s):
    Imogen Wegman (see profile)
    Date:
    2013
    Subject(s):
    Landscape history, Medieval geography, HGIS
    Item Type:
    Dissertation
    Institution:
    University of East Anglia
    Permanent URL:
    http://dx.doi.org/10.17613/M6C53F126
    Abstract:
    The Norfolk landscape has continuously changed and developed over the centuries as farms have grown and amalgamated, towns expanded, and coastlines eroded. Although post-medieval alterations and additions have influenced the county’s landscape, the settlement patterns were created earlier, in the medieval period. One characteristic feature of this time is the ‘isolated’ parish church. Now standing surrounded by wheat or cows, it is a familiar icon of East Anglia, but one rarely seen elsewhere. Archaeological evidence shows that all of these now-’isolated’ churches were originally built within a settlement. At some point, however, the settlement moved away from this site and towards the edges of the common. This process is known as ‘common-edge drift’, and it occurred throughout Norfolk, although, as will be seen, the settlement patterns resulting from this phenomenon vary greatly. In some areas the church came to stand completely isolated; in others it was at the end of a village stretching away. The evidence suggests this process was first seen in the Late Saxon period, but continued through the Medieval. What is significant is that the now-’isolated’ church was almost invariably built before the common edge was settled. While local surveys often demonstrate the existence of settlements that have moved away from their parish church building, very few attempts have been made to find a general explanation for why this occurred, and there has not been any systematic categorisation of the variation in settlement forms. Advances in Geographic Information Systems now make it possible to closely examine the relationship between church and settlement, see county-wide patterns, and seek an explanation for them. This dissertation will examine the patterns of common-edge drift and associated settlement patterns. It will rely on William Faden’s 1797 map of Norfolk, as well as field walking surveys, soil maps, archaeological detail, and early estate and tithe maps.
    Metadata:
    Status:
    Published
    Last Updated:
    2 years ago
    License:
    All Rights Reserved
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