New work – tracing early field systems on Puttenham Common

For a number of years, I have been itching to get hold of LiDAR imagery for Puttenham parish, having read a number of local and not-so-local studies which use it to enviably good effect. (For those who aren’t familiar with LiDAR, rather than me make a ham-fisted attempt at explaining it, I’ll defer to the experts at Historic England to provide an introduction.) So it was a matter of great excitement when c/o Twitter I was pointed in the direction of a ready-made and free-to-access national LiDAR survey imagery viewer available in the slightly unlikely-sounding location of the website – and even greater excitement when I spotted what to my eyes looked a lot like linear boundaries making up a lost field system at the east end of the Hillbury ridge on Puttenham Common! A couple more days of staring and thinking and this was the result:

all without image

With thanks to Studio Katja Alissa Mueller ( for keeping an expert eye on me while I was producing the plans of the suggested field systems.

Please click here to read a thorough but still interim account of what I’ve found, both on the LiDAR imagery and subsequently on the ground (and have a play around with the LiDAR viewer via the link above). The indications are that this is one of the most important archaeological discoveries made in Puttenham parish in many a long year (as well as providing more context for those that have gone before). It’s certainly got me thinking in a number of new directions, not least in terms of the implications for the interface and inheritance between prehistoric and historic landscapes. This has also coincided with me reading an important new study on rural continuity between the Roman and Early Anglo-Saxon periods. As a result, I’ve already got a companion piece underway discussing field boundary orientation and how the agricultural landscape of medieval and early modern Puttenham may have owed a debt to land divisions from previous eras. All being well this will be completed and posted in the next couple of weeks.

About Robert J S Briggs

Back to being a part-time early medievalist; Surrey born, London based, been known to travel
This entry was posted in Agriculture, Archaeology, Dating, Landscape, Puttenham and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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