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English Orchards (Paperback)

A Landscape History

P&S History > Archaeology > British Archaeology

By Gerry Barnes, Tom Williamson
Imprint: Windgather Press
Pages: 224
Illustrations: B/w and colour
ISBN: 9781914427190
Published: 5th June 2022
Casemate UK Academic


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Old orchards have an irresistible appeal. Their ancient trees and obscure fruit varieties seem to provide a direct link with the lost rural world of our ancestors, a time when the pace of life was slower and people had a strong and intimate connection with their local environment. They are also of critical importance for sustaining biodiversity, providing habitats, in particular, for a range of rare invertebrates. Not surprisingly, orchards and the fruit they contain have attracted an increasing amount of attention over the last few decades, from both enthusiastic bands of amateurs and official conservation bodies. But much of what has been written about them is historically vague, romanticised and nostalgic. Orchards have become a symbol of unspoilt, picturesque rural England.


This book attempts, for the first time, to provide a comprehensive review of the development of orchards in England from the Middle Ages to the present day. It describes the various different kinds of orchard and explains how, and when, they appeared in the landscape – and why they have disappeared, at a catastrophic rate, over the last six decades. Chapters discuss the contrasting histories of fruit growing in different regions of England, the complex story of ‘traditional’ fruit varieties and the role of orchards in wildlife conservation. In addition, a chapter on researching orchards provides a practical guide for those wishing to investigate the history and archaeology of particular examples.

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About Gerry Barnes

Gerry Barnes MBE is an honorary research fellow at the University of East Anglia and co-author with Tom Williamson of numerous books, including Ancient Trees in the Landscape, Trees in England: Management and Disease Since 1600 and Rethinking Ancient Woodland.

About Tom Williamson

Tom Williamson was born in Hemel Hemstead in Hertfordshire, and was brought up in Bushey, before reading history and archaeology at Jesus College, Cambridge. Since 1984 he has taught at the University of East Anglia. He is now Professor of Landscape History there, and has written widely on landscape archaeology, agricultural history and the history of landscape design. He has a particular interest in the landscape history of Hertfordshire.

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