A green space beyond self-interest: the evolution of common land in Norfolk, c.750-2003
This study investigates common land in Norfolk from the Middle Saxon period
to the present day, charting the significant changes in form, use, legal standing,
and popular perception that occurred. Exploring the subject from a 'long-view'
allows this dissertation to expound and to develop theories only observable from
such a perspective, yet, by studying closely the range of individual commons
within a single county, it is equally able to recognise and advance theories of
Although arranged chronologically, three largely separate but interrelated
aspects of common land are evolved: commons as landscape, commoning as the
embodiment of a social relationship between landowner and commoner, and
commoning as a detached concept describing a theory of societal interaction.
From its beginnings in the Saxon period through to the present day, the
important points of development and transition are indicated, discussed and
related to larger social and economic trends. Many of the developments in
common land are national in scope but this study ties them firmly to detailed
changes within the local landscape.
By looking at commons in Norfolk over 1200 years this dissertation concludes
that common land is remarkable for its flexibility and for being able to adapt
and to be adapted within a changing physical and economic landscape.
However, because common land exists as a concept over and above its physical
form, its relevance is also evolving within a social and intellectual landscape.