The Waste

Popular Reading


The Waste

But it was not only its cultivated land which was important to the village economy, whether in the Midlands or elsewhere.

The waste or uncultivated land provided essential benefits too.

It must be remembered that this waste included most of the area of the country; each village lay amongst its heaths or woods or marshes like an oasis in the wilderness, though on the more fertile and easily worked soils they were closer together than elsewhere.

Part of the waste, remote or of little value, was a virtual no-man's-land; the parts immediately surrounding each village, and any other areas to which it laid claim, were called its common.

Here the swine were driven to feed in the woods, and here the villagers cut wood for building or for fuel, or dug turves or peat.

(A good supply of turves and peat was important in a time when coal, except perhaps in a few surface outcrops, was unknown.) Sheep, too, grazed in the woodlands and on the heather; they were long-legged, hardy creatures, valued as much for their hides and their milk as for their wool.

There was nothing haphazard about the use of the waste land, and very little that was individualistic either.

A household might not keep more than so many sheep or so many cattle on the common; it might not send more than so many pigs to feed in the beech or oak woods.

The whole routine of pasture, as of cultivation, was communally arranged.

Everybody had to turn beasts out at the same time; only after one fixed clay in the year, by which the harvests of laggards and industrious alike had to be in, could the stubble be pastured.

It was difficult, if not impossible, for a man to farm better than his neighbours.

He might be diligent in weeding, but his neighbours' neglected weeds would soon seed and spread over his ground.

Next - Status Britain In The Great Depression.

The "Midland System "

Open Fields. Already, then, by the time of the Conquest, a great variety of types of settlement had grown up. The best known of these, and that on which most historians, until lately, have dwelt almost exclusively, when discussing the" medieval village "or the " open field system ", was the one prevalent over all the central part of England and which we may perhaps call the Midland system. The typical village was nucleated - a cluster of houses or hovels, close together. The land surrounding it was split into two, or three, great fields; each year one of these would lie fallow while the remainder was... see: The "Midland System "

Of interest

Services overview

  • You can send us an email if you want to know more about waht we do and we will get back to you as soon as we are able.

  • Want to be a published author
    We publish articles on this site if they fulfil our requirments. more>>