Elements of the rural landscape 1: Movement across the land Tracks, roads, canals, railways
Elements of the rural landscape• Elements of the landscape: the things it is built up from and which give it its particular character• Some of the elements are continuous, such as soils, relief, land cover• Other elements are discrete, such as roads, buildings, field boundaries.• The variations in elements can exercise enormous influence on the character of the landscape
The presence of transport routes• Neolithic technology required the use of high quality flint, which can be traced to its source.• Flint tools from the Lake District and East Anglia have been found all over the country, so there must have been a transport system to move them over. Almost certainly on foot.• Before rivers were managed and land drained, huge areas of marsh required built wooden “roads” to give access to farmland and places of security. Somerset Levels have revealed several such walkways
Pre-historic transport routesA reconstruction of the The Ridgeway over theSweet Track in the Marlborough Downs,Somerset Levels, age impossible toapprox 3,600 BC establish
Packhorse tracks• Few routes could be covered by wheeled vehicles in the middle ages. Most goods, even fresh foods, were transported by Pack horse• Packhorse tracks are narrow, as direct as possible, and often worn deep into the landscape through centuries of use.
Livestock to market• The major Markets for meat were London and the south coast ports, to supply the Navy with salt beef and pork.• The main fat stock production regions were Wales and Scotland.• How were the cattle transported to market?• They walked. (Even geese and ducks walked)
Drove roads in ScotlandImage sourcehttp://sites.scran.ac.uk/kestrel3d
Drove roads• Drove roads were continuous meadows, fenced to keep cattle out of farm land.• The roads were very wide and provided grazing.• Towns along the routes provided secure village greens were stock rested• If the pub is called the Drovers arms, it is on a drove road
Not just in GB• Drove roads in Spain used to move between summer and winter pasture • Fenced roads in Nicaragua, where the cattle graze, but are kept off the farmland
Canals-the first alternative to roadsCurrent navigable canals All canals and navigable rivers
Impact of canals on the landscape• Canals create unbroken lines through the landscape – Water – Boat transport – Pedestrian access – Vegetation – Wildlife• Enormous potential for livelihood generation within the countryside.
Railways-the end of commercial waterways?• Railways brought speed, almost unlimited carrying capacity and access to difficult terrain• The routes are incompatible with recreation but good for wildlife.• Railways killed off drove roads for moving livestock and effectively killed off narrow canals• Railways killed off local vernacular architecture. All building materials now available everywhere
Impact of railways on the rural landscape• Railways in themselves have relatively little physical impact on the landscape, but they brought people into the countryside.• “Metroland”, the suburbia surrounding the big cities, grew into the countryside along the routes of the new 19th and 20th century rail network• Any transport system which brings rapid, cheap travel will bring pressure on areas which were once considered remote and inaccessible.
Harnhill, 1995 and 2002: more and more roads1995 2002
Eysey Manor, 1995 and 2002, roads and gravel extraction1995 2002
Airports + cheap flights-the next pressure on the landscape• The countryside is the only place with enough room for airports• Current pressures in Cheshire (Manchester) and Essex (Stansted) with possible major development in Thames Estuary• Cheap flights are now available to Cornwall from London: £30 and 30 minutes and you are in the Southwest.
Supporting referencesRackham O. 1997 The Illustrated History of the Countryside Phoenix• Chapters: – HighwaysHindle P. 2001 Roads & Tracks for Historians Phillimore