The Wealden landscape in the early seventeenth century and its antecedents
This study attempts to describe the historical geography of a confined region, the Weald, before 1650 on the basis of factual research; it is also a methodological experiment, since the results are organised in a consistently retrospective sequence. After defining the region and surveying its regional geography at the beginning of the seventeenth century, the antecedents and origins of various elements in the landscape-woodlands, parks, settlement and field patterns, industry and towns - are sought by retrospective enquiry. At two stages in this sequence the regional geography at a particular period (the early fourteenth century, 1086) is outlined, so that the interconnections between the different elements in the region should not be forgotten. The earliest source material used for original investigation is Anglo-Saxon charters but, to complete the methodological structure, the inquiry is pursued (by summarising the research of others) to the first agricultural settlement of the area, ending with a description of the natural landscape which these first colonists saw.