Thegns, Drains and Minor Place-Names : The Economic and Social Evolution of Lancashire’s Medieval Coastal Landscapes, c.1150–1550

Masters, Jonathan and Edmonds, Fiona and Gregory, Ian and Crosby, Jacquie (2023) Thegns, Drains and Minor Place-Names : The Economic and Social Evolution of Lancashire’s Medieval Coastal Landscapes, c.1150–1550. PhD thesis, Lancaster University.

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The management of water and improvement of wetland environments were important aspects of medieval agricultural development, yet wetland improvement in south-west Lancashire before 1550 has received little scholarly attention as part of the growing research spanning rural settlement, landscape, and economic development in the Middle Ages. This thesis investigates the evidence of landscape change and the impact of socio-economic practices related to the diverse geographies of the lower reaches of the Alt, the Martin Mere mosses, and Liverpool and its environs from c.1150 to 1550. The source material is drawn from medieval documentary evidence related to local landholding that proliferated from the thirteenth century onwards and is preserved in Lancashire Archives. My examination of medieval charters deploys an interdisciplinary method combining minor place-name analysis and GIS to enhance the spatial and topographical qualities of medieval documentary sources as an innovative way of investigating landscape change and socio-economic development in rural and urban settings during the medieval period. Medieval deeds can be rich in topographical details and minor place-names that describe places of social, economic, and environmental significance to local communities and bring to light how people perceived and exploited their surroundings in the medieval period. The predominance of hydronyms that defined boundary limits strengthens our current understanding of watery places as natural barriers to potential land reclamation, informing us of medieval practices towards water management. The reconstruction of historical landscapes through mapping and spatial analysis using GIS also reinforces our understanding of ‘lost’ environments. This study, therefore, addresses how a multi-disciplinary approach, using alternative forms of evidence and analytical methods, such as place-names and GIS, can enhance our interpretation of medieval charters from a landscape perspective when considering rural and urban settings in the medieval period.

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Thesis (PhD)
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Research Output Funding/yes_externally_funded
?? medieval historylandscapesocio-economic developmentplace-namesruralurbanwetland environmentschartersgisspatial analysisdigital humanitiespeasantryyes - externally funded ??
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21 Jul 2023 13:15
Last Modified:
16 Jul 2024 06:04