Peasant Perceptions of Landscape: Ewelme hundred, south Oxfordshire, 500-1650

Review by Susan Oosthuizen.

This study of 14 south Oxfordshire parishes covers the lowland valleys of both the Thame and Thames, typified by nucleated settlements and open fields, and the uplands of the Chiltern Hills, characterised by dispersed farms and hamlets set among small fields, pastures, and woodland.

The first two chapters, covering AD 500 to 1100, are inevitably more speculative since archaeological data leavened with landscape features recorded in place-names and charter bounds offer sparse direct evidence for peasant perceptions of the landscape. Things come into better focus in the four chapters covering AD 1100 to 1650, when documents became more plentiful. Here, spatial analysis of settlements, the soundscapes of church bells, and evidence from court rolls and other accounts contribute to a better understanding of relationships between neighbours and communities in their landscapes. This volume offers a rich survey of the landscape archaeology and history of its region.

Peasant Perceptions of Landscape: Ewelme hundred, south Oxfordshire, 500-1650, Stephen Mileson and Stuart Brookes, Oxford University Press, £85, ISBN 978-0192894892.