Infield and outfield: the early stages of marshland colonisation and the evolution of medieval field systems
University of Exeter
Heritage Trust of Lincolnshire in conjunction with WARP (Wetland Archaeology Research Project) and English Heritage
[FIRST PARAGRAPH] In recent decades we have come a long way in our understanding of medieval field systems, and in particular the origins and structure of the Midland open fields. The work of David Hall in Northamptonshire and elsewhere has been one of the most important contributions, most notably for the way in which documentary, cartographic and earthwork evidence are integrated. Though the structure of these field systems is now relatively well-understood, their origins are less clear. Large scale fieldwalking has shown that the medieval pattern of nucleated villages and open fields replaced a landscape characterised by dispersed settlement, though little is known of the structure of their associated field systems. There has been speculation that open fields may have evolved from infield-outfield systems (e.g. Astill 1988, 63; Baker and Butlin 1973c,655-6; Finberg1 969, 150; Fox 1981, 64,89-90) and though Taylor (1981, 13) is quite right in suggesting that systems such as run-rig and infield-outfield ... are well documented as having existed in many places in this country , such arrangements have received relatively little attention in recent overviews of British field systems( Astill 1988; Rowley 1981; Taylor 1987,68).
Reproduced with permission of the publisher. Copyright © Hertiage Trust of Lincolnshire 2002; © WARP 2002. NOTE: Image reference (p.64) should read: RAF/3G/TUD/UK/19, frame 5237 taken 13 January 1946. Credit line: English heritage. NMR (RAF Photography)
In: Lane, T and Coles, J (eds). 'Through wet and dry; essays in honour of David Hall'. Sleaford and Exeter: Lincolnshire Archaeology and Heritage Report Series No.5 and WARP Occasional Paper 17: pp 54-70