Anglo‐Saxon Fields

Susan Oosthuizen

in The Oxford Handbook of Anglo-Saxon Archaeology

Published in print March 2011 | ISBN: 9780199212149
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Archaeology

Anglo‐Saxon Fields

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  • Archaeology
  • Anglo-Saxon and Medieval Archaeology



This article addresses how and when the small, rectilinear or irregular fields of Roman Britain were transformed into the open and common fields of medieval England. Furthermore, the sparse and often unsatisfactory physical indicators of continuities and discontinuities in the layout and management of arable fields during the Anglo-Saxon centuries are explored. Mid Saxon agricultural innovation seems to have included an increase in the area under cultivation, and the introduction of new crops, new technologies, and new approaches to maintaining the fertility of the soil, within the familiar structures of infield-outfield cultivation which remained the basis of arable management. The two general types of mid Saxon field layouts are explained: enclosed and unenclosed. The data suggests that the process of the transformation of ancient into medieval fields may have been more attenuated than previously supposed.

Keywords: arable fields; Roman Britain; medieval England; agricultural innovation; Anglo-Saxon centuries; enclosed field layouts; unenclosed field layouts; cultivation

Article.  10020 words. 

Subjects: Archaeology ; Anglo-Saxon and Medieval Archaeology

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