The Form, Function and Evolution of Irregular Field Systems in Suffolk, 1300 to 1550

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The evolution of irregular fields deserves more attention than it has yet received in the voluminous literature on British field systems. This article briefly describes the form and function of three different types of irregular system in c.1300, and then reconstructs the changes to their layout and organization over the next two and a half centuries. It demonstrates that irregular fields were dynamic systems, and therefore liable to change their form and function over a relatively short period of time. It also provides support for the contention that structural changes to open fields were more likely to occur during periods of demographic decline, when the obstacles to, and risks associated with, such changes were reduced. Finally, it argues that historic landscape classifications, and the conventional distinction between ancient and planned landscapes, do not take sufficient account of the instability of irregular fields and their tendency to be remodelled.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)15-36
Number of pages22
JournalAgricultural History Review
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2009

Cite this