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Field scale reconstruction of nineteenth century rural land use using first County Series OS maps and parish area books


Project Description

The project will explore agricultural land use change in mid-nineteenth century England, which was a period of relatively high prosperity and stability before the onset of an era of decline and depression from the early 1870s through to the twentieth century. The project will draw on a previously under exploited source of land use data for mid-nineteenth century England, namely the first County Series of Ordnance Survey (OS) maps (1853-4) and accompanying area books published for each parish (1855 to 1879). The research develops from and extends the historical and geographical focus of work on twentieth century agricultural land use completed at Kingston University, which has concentrated on the South Downs and Weald in South-East England. The project will provide the opportunity to undertake a comparative analysis of mid-nineteenth century agricultural land use in this area of lowland farming with an English upland farming area.

The research is situated within the expanding field of Historical Geographic Information Systems and Science. It is likely to involve the creation of a database of land parcels and associated land use information in a GIS for contiguous parishes across the lowland and upland farming areas. The OS maps are freely available through Digimap and the area books are held in the British Library. The research will offer insights into field scale patterns of agricultural land use at this transition point in English agriculture.
Possible research questions include:

1. How were the field scale patterns of agricultural land use related to the transition from prosperity to depression in English nineteenth century agriculture?
2. How differentiated were lowland and upland farming systems in their ability to cope with this transition?
3. Did the mid-nineteenth century agricultural land use patterns establish a foundation for twentieth century agricultural adjustment?

Funding Notes

There is no funding for this project: only self-funded applications can be considered

Related Subjects

How good is research at Kingston University in Geography, Environmental Studies and Archaeology?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 10.00

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

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