A Lost Frontier Revealed
Regional separation in the East Midlands
Author: Alan Fox
Price: £18.99 (free postage)
“I found this book exciting and stimulating. As a test of the Phythian-Adams hypothesis it is ground-breaking in its detail... I recommend the book to anyone interested in local history, local societies and how these interact.”
About the book
“Fox has produced a scholarly and detailed study of one area of the country; and one which clearly has its own wider regional characteristics. He indicates how much there is still to say about Phythian-Adams' theories of regions and borders, and at how many levels it may apply. The obvious final thought is to call for more, similarly detailed, local studies, so that we can start to assess in greater detail how unique this area of the country was. This book will be of interest to those working in local social and economic history and, like the rest of this series, is priced to be readily accessible to all.” Alysa Levene, Local Population Studies
“Alan Fox's in-depth depiction of a social-spacial fault-line between Leicestershire and west Lincolnshire provides a highly methodical, meticulously researched, well-grounded and very welcome test of Phythian-Adams's hypotheses about regional 'societies'. It is based on rigorous and exhaustive parish-by-parish analyses, including a phenomenal family reconstitution of fourteen parishes in this border area.” H.R. French, Agricultural History Review
Even today, a traveller through the length and breadth of England is soon aware of cultural differences, some of which are clearly visible in the landscape. It is advocated by the eminent English historian Charles Phythian-Adams that England, through much of the last millennium, could be divided into regional societies, which broadly coincided with groups of pre-1974 counties.
These shire assemblages in turn lay largely within the major river drainage systems of the country. In this unusual and probing study Alan Fox tests for, and establishes, the presence of an informal frontier between two of the proposed societies astride the Leicestershire-Lincolnshire border, which lies on the watershed between the Trent and Witham drainage basins.
Many studies of rural landscapes tend to emphasise medieval and earlier times, but here the stress is on the early modern period.
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On either side of the proposed frontier, seven contrasting countrysides are distinguished; three in Leicestershire, three in Lincolnshire, with the seventh, former heath land, spanning the county boundary.
Diversity in the underling geology and differential rates of enclosure resulted in marked contrasts in settlement distributions and population densities of the seven countrysides. Patterns of wealth, poor-relief, the local economy, land ownership and land use reveal further distinctions, but the crucial area was the heathland which separated two neighbouring societies. On either side of this frontier, echoes of traditional cultural differences, particularly of customs, folklore, dialect and vernacular architecture, can still be experienced today.
The evidence presented suggests a strong case for a cultural frontier zone, which is announced by a largely empty landscape astride the border between the contrasting settlement patterns of these neighbouring counties. The author finally adds further proof for the existence of this divide backwards and forward in time from the early modern period. It is hoped that this original approach will encourage researchers to identify other regions and their frontiers by adopting similar methods.
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ISBN: 978-1-902806-97-6 Format: Paperback, 224pp Published: Apr 2010
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