Type 1.0. PRE-18TH-CENTURY ENCLOSURE. This category refers to land that was
enclosed into fields for agriculture before 1700. In most of Suffolk the landscape is one of
‘ancient enclosure’, in contrast to areas like the Midlands, where extensive areas of common
fields (large ‘open’ fields subdivided into separately-owned strips) were enclosed using
parliamentary acts in the 18th and 19th centuries. In many of the areas of ‘ancient enclosure’ in
Suffolk there is little evidence for a medieval phase of common-field farming: some areas had
limited areas of common fields (as in north Suffolk) but in others there were none (as is often
the case in south Suffolk). The identification of these earlier landscapes, which date back to
medieval and in some cases even earlier, was a priority behind the development of the HLC
mapping. These earlier landscapes are of great historic significance and have different
management needs to later field systems.


The pre-18th century enclosure landscape type covers a number of sub-types, as detailed below:

• Sub-type 1.1. Pre-18th-century enclosure – random fields. Landscapes made
up of fields that have an irregular pattern (i.e. without any dominant axis). Many
were in existence by the medieval period, but could be earlier. Boundaries are
usually take the form of species-rich hedges (normally coppiced not laid) with
associated ditches and banks. Areas with this field pattern are probably some of
our earliest farming landscapes.
• Sub-type 1.2. Pre-18th-century enclosure – rectilinear fields. This is not a
dominant type in Suffolk. Landscapes of this type are made up of fields that tend
to be small and rectilinear in shape, forming patterns that resemble the brickwork
in a wall. They tend to exist in isolated pockets within more extensive areas of
other types of early enclosure, and probably indicate relatively late episodes of
field creation or re-organisation, although still pre-18th century, within earlier
surroundings.
• Sub-type 1.3. Pre-18th-century enclosure – long co-axial fields. Landscapes
made up of fields where a high proportion of the boundaries share a dominant
axis. This takes the form of long, slightly sinuous lines that run roughly parallel to
each other for considerable distances. These lines usually run at right angles to a
significant watercourse. Co-axial systems are not all of the same date – some in
valley-side positions may represent very early farming boundaries, but others on
the clay plateaux are likely to be medieval in date (as in parts of the South
Elmhams).
• Sub-type 1.4. Pre-18th-century enclosure – irregular co-axial fields.
Landscapes where many of the boundaries share a common axis. They share
many of the characteristics of long co-axial fields (sub-type 1.3) but lack their
overall regularity and their boundaries are often only approximately parallel. The
systems vary in size, merge in and out of one another, and generally fail to follow
one particular aspect or angle. In some cases these systems represent the early,
piecemeal, enclosure of common fields.
• Sub-type 1.5. Pre-18th-century enclosure – former medieval deer park. Deer
parks were important symbols of lordship in the medieval period and normally
consisted of areas of woodland, wood pasture and open grassland (launds),
bounded by banks and ditches with hedging and/or wooden fences to form a
‘park pale’. Park pales frequently have curved outlines as this was the most
economic way of enclosing large areas. Deer parks were frequently situated on
upland clay areas unsuited to agriculture and can therefore be at some distance
from the lordship centre that they served. The parks functioned as deer farms,
supplying venison for the lord’s table, with a variable amount of actual hunting.
Parks could also include rabbit warrens and fishponds, also supplying food for
the lord. Lodges within the parks supplied accommodation for a parker and/or a
visiting lord. Some parks were in existence by 1086, but the majority appear to
have been active in the period 1200-1400. Most were ‘disparked’ by the 16th
Century and turned over to agriculture, but the legacy in the landscape can
survive, in terms of names, field patterns and boundary features
• Sub-type 1.6. Pre-18th-century enclosure – former marsh or fenland. Areas of
inland marsh or fen that was enclosed before 1700. Enclosures frequently have
curvilinear boundaries and drainage ditches, often reflecting pre-existing
channels and streams.
• Sub-type 1.7. Pre-18th-century enclosure – former coastal marsh. Areas of
coastal marsh that was enclosed before 1700. Enclosures frequently have
curvilinear boundaries and drainage ditches, often reflecting pre-existing
channels and creeks.
• Sub-type 1.8. Pre-18th-century enclosure – planned allotments. Areas of
fenland that were allotted to ‘adventurers’ (i.e. investors) in the 17th-century fen
drainage enterprises. These are characterised by their straight-edged, geometric
shapes associated with straight drains and roads. They may also have a
farmstead set within a block of fields.

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