The transport system of medieval England and Wales : a geographical synthesis
This thesis is concerned with attempting to reconstruct the transport system of medieval England and Wales. The thesis is divided into four parts. The first is an introduction which seeks to justify the research and to place it in the context of recent work in historical geography. This section also examines the previous research on medieval transport. The second part expands the previously established medieval road network and attempts to clarify certain aspects relating to it. Cartographic evidence is examined together with a critical examination of various itineraries which have not been previously discussed in any great detail. An attempt is also made to clarify the vexed question relating to the significance of the medieval unit of distance. Some further evidence, including direct documentary evidence, is examined and then added to all the previous evidence to produce the basic framework of a national medieval road network. Direct documentary evidence is also used in an attempt to establish the most likely routes taken for the overland movement of goods and produce where only the starting point and destination are recorded. The third part attempts to determine, using direct historical evidence, the extent of navigable water used during the medieval period. The initial chapters deal with the navigable rivers on a regional basis, and an attempt is made to establish their navigational limits. All this regional evidence is then brought together to produce a national picture of inland navigable waterways. An analysis of the movement of goods along the rivers is carried out, and the link between inland and coastal navigation is also considered, together with an appraisal of medieval vessels. This section also examines the cartographic representation of waterways. The fourth, and final part of the thesis is concerned with combining the road and waterway networks and also examines their affinity with the more prominent medieval trading centres to produce the basic structure of the whole national medieval transport system. Trends in the changing fortunes of the prominent medieval boroughs are analysed which puts into perspective temporal fluctuations and hence highlights the changing importance of the routes leading to them. Finally, further direct historical evidence is called upon to confirm utilisation of the system.