Mapping improvement: reshaping rural landscapes in the eighteenth century

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This article explores the nature of landscape 'improvement' in the eighteenth century through a detailed examination of a selection of maps produced for the owners of the Merton estate in south-west Norfolk. The study of cartographic evidence is, of course, one of the foundations of landscape history, yet only limited attention has been paid to the full significance of the maps themselves and the manner in which they could influence the way landowners thought about their surroundings. A careful consideration of contemporary maps can, in particular, shed valuable light on the complex motives underlying rural landscape change in this period; a point which emphasises how the debate ought to be shifted away from economically deterministic arguments toward a wider consideration of the importance of social, ideological and aesthetic concerns.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)62-82
Number of pages20
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2005


  • Improvement
  • Landscape History
  • Enclosure

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