Transformations in the rural landscape of post-medieval north-east England
Author: Ronan O'Donnell
“This seventh volume in the University of Hertfordshire’s series Explorations in local and regional history has much to commend it. It is engagingly produced and well illustrated. It is well planned and clearly written, and it is pithily and concisely constructed. Appearing only a year after the award of his PhD and with two articles in key periodicals already under his belt, the author is clearly advancing fast. His subject choice, the landscape of Northumberland and the north-east, is both topical and under-researched. His interdisciplinary credentials for the task are ideal, combining a degree in archaeology, a Masters in local history, and doctoral work on landscape history, and he sets out a methodology that includes a seemingly pertinent theoretical framework, actor–network theory, that is new to most historians. The approach is appropriate, the period covered from the sixteenth to the late nineteenth century is appealing, the primary sources are exploited effectively, and the theoretical framework is helpful without being intrusive.”
About the book
“The author has drawn attention to a number of aspects of enclosure which have been previously neglected or dealt with only briefly. The failure of enclosure to always bring about improvement, the role played by tenants and the extent to which landowners were motivated by considerations that went beyond practical and economic concerns are all highlighted here and would repay further research in other parts of the country.” Jon Gregory, Landscape History
“O’Donnell’s research is of immense value to readers interested in exploring the multiple variables which could influence landscape change in the post-medieval period. The detailed case study here will interest not only local historians, but also researchers looking for contrasts to Midlands-oriented studies. O’Donnell argues that we should be applying this deeply contextual approach to a wide range of post-medieval landscape studies, in order to understand the true nature of the changes as well as the effects of these changes on individuals who were involved, from the great estate landlord through to the small-holding tenant farmer and his family. There is value to this approach… and hopefully we will see similar contextual studies produced for other regions in the future.” Sarah Newstead, Medieval Settlement Research
The landscape history of North-East England has not been studied as much as other parts of the country. This book begins to fill this gap by utilizing Actor-Network Theory (ANT) to re-assess the familiar topics of enclosure and improvement.
It reveals the contribution of local 'actors' – including landowners, tenants and the landscape itself – to these 'processes'. In so doing it transforms our understanding of the way in which the landscape of Northumberland was created during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and carries wider implications for how we might approach enclosure in other parts of the country.
ISBN: 978-1-909291-43-0 Format: Paperback, 164pp Published: Nov 2015
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