Thorps in a Changing Landscape (Explorations in Local and Regional Histo)

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Parsons eds , Thorps in a Changing Landscape. Communicating climate change from the perspective of local people: A case study from Traditional knowledge and renewable resource management in northern regions. Bodies and voices from Ultima Thule: Inuit exploration of the Kablunat from. Cullen, R. Jones and D. Parsons, Thorps in a Changing Landscape medieval pottery industry;33 Harold Fox's explorations of transhumance and. As evidence of this assertion, they cite research not just from history and from.

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As I intimated in the introduction to my essay on Hebbeshamm based upon reading a limited preview available via Google Books — you can do the same here this book represents the first major work of a new, thoroughly interdisciplinary approach to the study of place-names — in essence a new form of historical geography. Surrey can boast two examples of place-names derived from throp , or less likely thorp : Thorpe , the small parish and village in the north-west of the county best known nowadays for the eponymous theme park, and a lost?

One of the key conclusions of the study which I will abbreviate to TiaCL for the rest of this piece is that such place-names originated after circa , with many arising in the tenth and eleventh centuries. Historically, this is of immediate interest to Surrey since Thorpe appears as in loco qui dicitur Thorpe in S , the well-known Chertsey endowment charter believed to date from the first half of the s you can read the full text of the charter here.

If genuine, this would represent the earliest recorded instance of a place-name in Old English throp.

This is a minor gripe, but one which links in to a second, more serious shortcoming of the analysis; the treatment of the authenticity of the charter text. This may well be a consequence of the poor reputation of the pre-Norman elements of the Chertsey archive; Kelly , has identified Abbot Wulfwold circa — as the commissioner of a number of these muniments. With this knowledge we can begin to assess how, when and why Thorpe came into being. Thorpe is a small parish, so the population figures Domesday Book gives for the estate in seem surprisingly high: 12 villans and 24 bordars.

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Using the generally-accepted rule of thumb that population statistics should be multiplied by between 4 and 5 to represent the respective family units means as many as people may have lived within the boundaries of the Thorpe estate at the time of the Survey. A settlement of half that size — say 10 to 15 houses — would still be counted as a village by practically all of the agreed measures used by archaeologists, yet Turner states there is scant evidence for nucleation at Thorpe although it does not necessarily follow that large numbers of houses could only be constituted in a village of nucleated form.

Thorpe constitutes a particularly good case study for investigating the origin of throp place-names because, if its appearances in S are dismissed as later embellishments of an original text, then the combined documentary evidence points to its creation being the work of the important Anglo-Saxon monastery at Chertsey.


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Taking the year as a point in time after which all or almost all throp -names came into being, we can use the few scraps of testimony for its existence and character over the course of the following three centuries to suggest when the term was deployed on Chertsey demesne. The first relevant information comes from the final third of the ninth century and this is in a much later and rather questionable Chertsey cartulary when, circa , a Viking raid caused the deaths of as many as 92 of the monastic community, which implies it had been a monastery of considerable size.

It was not until that full monastic rule was restored to Chertsey under an abbot named Ordberht. Could throps have been one of the new ideas emanating from this period?

Thorps In A Changing Landscape Explorations In Local And Regional Histo: Ready

The element makes a decent if unspectacular showing in Berkshire and Oxfordshire where the distribution shows no correlation with the Thames valley and similarly in Hampshire and Wiltshire, home to several major monastic houses. It occurs once in Somerset TiaCL , , site of Glastonbury Abbey where St Dunstan began the English monastic reform movement in the s; a number of authors have suggested that this sparked a process of landscape reorganisation and settlement nucleation on some of its estates.

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There is no evidence that any of the above involved the introduction of new place-name terminology, but it is well within the bounds of possibility that this could have occurred elsewhere. The connection between Thorpe and Chertsey is assured, so it is encouraging to find Molesey likewise has a documented connection to the monastery.

This opens up the possibility of le Thrope remembering a place-name coined in the post-refoundation period. However, we do not know for how long Chertsey had been deprived of the Molesey estate; what we do know is that had passed out of Chertsey hands by hence its absence from S ? It was late June. The steam hissed. Someone cleared his throat. The thorp heartland lies north and east of the line of Watling Street, now the A5, and comprises the north-east Midland counties of Leicestershire, Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire, Lincolnshire and north-east Northamptonshire Figure 1.

These were the Five Boroughs of the Danelaw, where Scandinavian influence in place-naming is most clear. Some sense of their density in the medieval landscape can be gauged from sources such as the Leicestershire Survey, compiled c. Thorps are and were thick on the ground in Yorkshire and Norfolk too.

In these various settings the words of another of Tennyson's poems find resonance:. Although conspicuous by their near-total absence in Cambridgeshire, outlying thorps are found in Northumberland and Cumbria, and some even spill over south and west of Watling Street - but this is really throp rather than thorp country, and certainly becomes so the further one leaves the Roman road and the Danelaw behind.

There are notable concentrations of such names in Oxfordshire, Gloucestershire and Wiltshire, while surrounding counties such as Dorset, Hampshire, Herefordshire, Worcestershire and Warwickshire have their own smattering of throp names too.

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Isolated on the south-western edge of their distribution is a single example in south Devon. This book is about these places. It will challenge the current consensus that thorps have always been marginal settlements in the English countryside. What is presented develops existing work by integrating linguistic, archaeological and topographical approaches and, for the first time, treats both the thorps of the Danelaw and the throps of the south together. Particular attention will be paid to the relationship between the thorps and the throps.

Do similar name-types represent two distinct and unconnected groups of settlements operating in different ways within the pre-Conquest landscape? Or are they so closely interrelated that they belong together and represent a single settlement phenomenon? We will show that it is possible to suggest a context for the creation of these place-names which locates them - in both time and space - in a rapidly developing English landscape.

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Far from being simple by-products of these events, we will propose that these apparently unassuming places may have played an integral and active part in the changes that revolutionised agricultural practice across a large belt of the country between c. There is much of interest to be extracted from the later histories of the thorps and throps, in their contrasting fates or continuing tenacity to exist within the English countryside in the face of social and economic change.

And it is often in the better-recorded periods that clues to their undocumented origins - the principal concern of this book - may be found. Consequently, what can be gleaned of the form and function of thorps and throps in the later medieval period is a critical starting point for any retrogressive analysis which seeks to elucidate their beginnings.

Nor should we ignore their post-medieval histories.

Thorps in a Changing Landscape (Explorations in Local and Regional Histo)

As a group of settlements, thorps and throps have tended, over the last or so years, to share a narrow set of common experiences. Some have simply been consumed by growing towns and cities: Shelthorpe and Thorpe Acre LEI, engulfed by the expansion of Loughborough, are just two examples. Proximity to urban centres has also led some thorps to grow rapidly during the twentieth century, as these once-rural places have become dormitories for their larger neighbours. Such has been the experience of Countesthorpe, just south of Leicester.

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