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Elements of the rural landscape

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Elements which make up the landscape

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Elements of the rural landscape

  1. 1. Elements of the rural landscape The bits that make up the landscape: The bits we map
  2. 2. 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
  3. 3. Transport as an element of the rural landscape
  4. 4. 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
  5. 5. Pre-historic transport routes A reconstruction of the Sweet Track in the Somerset Levels, approx 3,600 BC The Ridgeway over the Marlborough Downs, age impossible to establish
  6. 6. Roman roads The Fosseway today
  7. 7. 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.
  8. 8. 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)
  9. 9. 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
  10. 10. Canals-the first alternative to roads Current navigable canals All canals and navigable rivers
  11. 11. 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.
  12. 12. 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
  13. 13. 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.
  14. 14. Return of he road Croatia England Austria
  15. 15. Harnhill, 1995 and 2002: more and more roads 1995 2002
  16. 16. 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.
  17. 17. Buildings-a defining element of the rural landscape • People need buildings, we cannot survive in even temperate climates without shelter • The very definition of rural rather than wilderness implies the presence of human activity = buildings • The nature of most cherished buildings derives from their setting and their materials. The concept of vernacular architecture comes from the unconscious use of local materials in traditional ways
  18. 18. Vernacular means locally sourced and locally cheap Austria: timber & local stone; prosperous Canada: local logs for walls and wooden shingles: poor Vietnam: local bamboo & leaf: poor Kerala: local coconut palm; Tamil Nadu: farm waste prosperous materials: impoverished
  19. 19. Fields: patches in the landscape
  20. 20. Change in field shapes and boundaries 1995 1972 2004 Eysey Manor farm
  21. 21. Field systems Céide Fields: Co. Mayo Neolithic 5,000 years old Crofting systems: Scotland Medieval fields and woods Enclosed fields
  22. 22. International field patterns 1 Cotswolds Netherlands
  23. 23. International field patterns 2 Ireland- west South Africa
  24. 24. Field boundaries • Walls, fences, hedges, ditches, banks • Can give the essential texture to the landscape
  25. 25. Walls • Vernacular stone field walls of two types – Quarried stone: stone is sourced from a quarry and shaped for the wall – Field stone: boulders are cleared from the field and used for the enclosing walls
  26. 26. Hedgerows • Hedgerows often seen as the quintessential feature of the “English “ rural landscape • Rule of thumb on age: number of hedgerow species equals hedgerow age in centuries • The hedges below are probably only 200 years old
  27. 27. Fences • Generally unloved, but are a feature of modern farm landscapes • Barbed wire fencing invented in 19th century America during the Civil War… Canadian wooden fencing, the local vernacular
  28. 28. Field patterns in different cultures Austria: open field systems. No boundaries at all unless there is livestock, which is not usual at low level Kerala: crops grown on islands. Water creates boundaries but is also used for transport and fish rearing. Vietnam: rice grown in flooded paddy fields. No boundaries visible
  29. 29. Farming practice influencing landscape: permanent crops Spain: olive groves; centuries Costa Rica: coffee, years Kerala: tea: decades
  30. 30. Elements of the rural landscape summary • These landscape elements form the bits (the entities) that we will use to build models of the landscape • You can’t understand the history of the landscape or know why people value and cherish it just by adding up all the bits, but you do need to know what the bits are and how they fit into the whole landscape picture.

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