You are here: Original Evidence: Archaeology, Landscape and Buildings » Landscape
Landscape studies have also flourished in Oxfordshire. W.G.Hoskins, a founding force in landscape history, was working in Oxford as Reader in Economic History and living in Steeple Barton, when he wrote the seminal Making of the English Landscape (1955). He looked out on ‘a rich and favoured countryside….The cultural humus of sixty generations or more lies upon it.’ In his book he took ‘one comparatively small piece of country [a north Oxfordshire Ordnance Survey sheet], which contains every variety of road from the prehistoric trackway to the modern by-pass’ and based a chapter on it.
Later historians of Oxfordshire landscape have further developed this approach, sometimes re-interpreting Hoskins in the light of newly-discovered archaeological and historical research, and taking the story on beyond the traditional landscape on which Hoskins concentrated. The proven, key elements of landscape study are knowing the area studied on the ground, using and linking a wide range of documentary and material evidence, and most often beginning with present and recent evidence and peeling back successive layers of ‘cultural humus’. Oxfordshire studies have underlined the varied zones within the county, and landscapes as palimpsests, a fabric used again and again over centuries of human occupation. A classic instance of this is Blenheim Park.
SomeOxfordshire Landscape Studies
W.G.Hoskins, The Making of the English Landscape (3rd edition, 1988, with introduction and commentary by C.Taylor), especially chapter 8.
F.Emery, The Oxfordshire Landscape (1974).
K.Tiller, ‘Ways of Seeing: Hoskins and the Oxfordshire Landscape Revisited’, in P.S. Barnwell and M.Palmer (eds), Post-Medieval Landscapes. Landscape History after Hoskins, Vol.3 (2007).
J.Bond and K.Tiller, Blenheim: Landscape for a Palace (Second edition, 1997).