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The Anglo-Scottish Western March: A Landscape in Transition

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Caron Newman



This is the authors' accepted manuscript of a book chapter that has been published in its final definitive form by Sidestone Press, 2019.

For re-use rights please refer to the publisher's terms and conditions.


The popular image of the borderlands, between England and Scotland in the Middle Ages, is one dominated by violence in a sparsely populated desolate landscape. The view of the Anglo-Scottish border as a largely unsettled area has influenced landscape management, particularly in the 20th century, with the creation of extensive areas of forestry plantation. Recent archaeological work in a small part of the border, in the modern English county of Cumbria, is beginning to reveal another perspective. Using a 1603 survey in conjunction with archaeological landscape survey, the late medieval landscape can be reconstructed, revealing a denser settlement pattern of farmsteads and hamlets, surrounded by large fields, many of which were cultivated. The process of settlement abandonment and shrinkage was just beginning in the early 17th century, but the main period of desertion seems to be linked to after the pacification of the borderlands, when agricultural improvement and landscape-scale reorganisation would have been more achievable. The survey shows that the popular image of the borderlands is overly simplistic, and that it is the result of complex processes that requires greater understanding of its historic development.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Newman C

Editor(s): Theune,C

Publication type: Book Chapter

Publication status: Published

Book Title: Ruralia XII: Transitions and Transformation in the Medieval and Early Modern Countryside

Year: 2019

Volume: 12

Pages: 371-379

Acceptance date: 10/07/2019

Publisher: Sidestone Press

Place Published: Leiden