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Thorps in a Changing Landscape

Thorps - in some areas throps - are familiar elements in much of the named landscape of England. The current consensus suggests that thorps were minor settlements dependent in some way on more central places. This study develops existing work by integrating linguistic and archaeological approaches and, for the first time, considers the thorps of the Danelaw along with the throps of the south. A compelling connection is revealed between the creation of these place-names and fundamental changes taking place in the English landscape between AD 850 and 1250. Far from being marginal to settlement patterns, it is argued that thorps may have played an integral part in developments that revolutionised agricultural practice across a large belt of the country at that time. This study clearly demonstrates that general descriptions such as 'secondary settlement' or 'dependent outlying farmstead or hamlet' are inadequate for thorps; rather we should be looking to discover the precise characteristics that defined these places and which dictated the names they were given. The authors consider the siting of thorps and throps in relation to the landscape and to soil types in particular. Amply demonstrating the value of an interdisciplinary approach to the study of early medieval settlement in England, the authors are able to draw important conclusions about the changes in farming that swept the country during this period and by association the process of village nucleation. By examining both the chronology of place-names in thorp and throp and their qualifying elements (notably the presence or absence of personal names), it appears possible to chart both the speed at which arable enterprises farmed in severalty converted to communal cultivation as well as the direction in which the changes spread. There is a sense of real excitement as many fresh insights are revealed in the course of the book.
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Table of Contents

1 Introducing thorps 2 Establishing the corpus 3 Danelaw thorps 4 English throps 5 Thorps: the archaeological evidence 6 Thorps in the landscape 7 Thorp: a hypothesis and its wider implications Appendix 1: Throp in Anglo-Saxon glosses Appendix 2: A handlist of thorps and throps before 1300

About the Author

Paul Cullen is a Research Fellow in the Institute of Name-Studies at the University of Nottingham. He is editor of the English Place-Names Survey of Kent and a consulting editor of the Journal of the English Place-Names Society (JEPNS). Richard Jones is a Lecturer in Landscape History in the Centre for English Local History at the University of Leicester. He is the co-author of Medieval Villages in an English Landscape: Beginnings and Ends, which addresses the relationship between settlements and open-field farming in the English Midlands, and co-editor of Deserted Villages Revisited. David Parsons is Reader in Name-Studies and Director of the Institute of Name-Studies at the University of Nottingham. He is also Deputy Director of the Survey of English Place-Names, and English Place-Names Survey editor for Suffolk. He is the joint editor of Vikings and the Danelaw and has produced three volumes in The Vocabulary of English Place-Names series.

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