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The wolds as a special type of pays was first discussed by Alan Everitt, ‘River and Wold: Reflections on the Historical Origins of Regions and Pays’, in Everitt, Landscape and Community in England (1985). This stressed the influence of early settlement and exploitation on later characteristics. The general history of wolds landscapes was considered by Harold Fox and Bernard Jennings in Joan Thirsk (ed.), Rural England: An Illustrated History of the Landscape (2002), ch. 2. Wold is derived from Old English wald, and originally described a tract of countryside characterized by isolated strands of wood, perhaps amid pasture and some cultivated land. The high density of Scandinavian place‐names in areas of wold suggests new colonization from the 9th to the 11th century, when the last of the old wood pastures were brought under the plough. By the 12th century the arable fields of the wolds were not much different from those overlying the days of midland England. In the later Middle Ages many wolds settlements suffered from depopulation and the land was used for sheep grazing. Much land returned under the plough after parliamentary enclosure during the 18th and 19th centuries. The wolds landscape typically has many estate villages, shrunken or deserted settlements, and little rural industry.

Subjects: History.

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