The Wandering Herd (Paperback)
The Medieval Cattle Economy of South-East England c.450-1450
The British countryside is on the brink of change. With the withdrawal of EU subsidies, threats of US-style factory farming and the promotion of ‘rewilding’ initiatives, never before has so much uncertainty and opportunity surrounded our landscape. How we shape our prospective environment can be informed by bygone practice, as well as through engagement with livestock and landscapes long since vanished. This study examines aspects of pastoralism that occurred in part of medieval England. It suggests how we learn from forgotten management regimes to inform, shape and develop our future countryside.
This book focuses on a region of southern England the pastoral identity of which has long been synonymous with the economy of sheep pasture and the medieval right of swine pannage. These aspects of medieval pastoralism, made famous by iconic images of the South Downs and the evidence presented by Domesday, mask a pastoral heritage in which a signifi cant part was played by cattle. This aspect of medieval pastoralism is traceable in the region’s historic landscape, documentary evidence and excavated archaeological remains. Past scholars of the South-East have been so concerned with the importance of medieval sheep, and to a slightly lesser extent pigs, that no systematic examination of the cattle economy has ever been undertaken. This book therefore represents a deep, multi-disciplinary study of the cattle economy over the longue durée of the Middle Ages, especially its importance within the evolution of medieval society, settlement and landscape.
Nationally, medieval cattle have been one of the most important and neglected aspects of the agriculture of the medieval period. This book shows us how, as part of both a mixed and specialised farming economy, they have helped shapethe countryside we know today.