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The English Village: The Origin and Decay of its Community An Anthropological Interpretation


SEEBOHM in 1883 issued his well-known work on the English village community, which he examined in its relation especially to the manorial system and to common field husbandry. Among the general conclusions of his work was the view that “neither the village nor the tribal community seems to have been introduced into Britain during a historical period reaching back for 2000 years at least; … the village community of the eastern districts of Britain was connected with a settled agriculture which, apparently dating earlier than the Roman invasion and improved during the Roman occupation, was carried on, at length, under the three-field form of the open-field system which became the shell of the English village community.” Without following out the discussion of Seebohm's views it may be said that the accumulation of archaeological evidence since his day has made far more probable his. view that there were agricultural settlements on cleared forest lands in Britain well before Roman times. The mapping of the catalogued Iron-Age finds from the lists given in the report on the Glastonbury Lake Village would furnish presumptive evidence on this point. It is, however, clear that Seebohm attributed great importance to Roman influence, which he says “enforced the settlement and introduced … fixed rotation of crops” “within the old Roman provinces (N. of the Alps) and in the Suevic districts along their borders,” the area of “the geographical distribution of the three-field system.”

The English Village: The Origin and Decay of its Community. An Anthropological Interpretation.

By Harold Peake. Pp. 251. (London: Benn Bros., Ltd., 1922.) 15s. net.

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