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Turf wars : conflict and cooperation in the management of Wallingfen (East Yorkshire), 1281-1781

Crouch, David; McDonagh, Briony


David Crouch

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Professor Briony McDonagh
Interim Director of the Energy and Environment Institute & Professor of Environmental Humanities


This paper explores the origins and management of Wallingfen, a large tract of waterlogged marshes and carrs near Howden in the East Riding of Yorkshire. Subject to annual flooding throughout much of its history, the area was utilized by the surrounding parishes and townships throughout the medieval and early modern period, providing a range of important resources to the neighbouring communities including fish, fowl, turves and summer grazing. In this it had much in common with wetland commons elsewhere in England and on the Continent. Yet while the East Anglian Fens and the Lancashire mosses were being drained and enclosed in the seventeenth century – as too were the wetlands around the southern shore of the North Sea Basin in Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands – Wallingfen remained wet, marshy and entirely unsuitable for arable agriculture long into the eighteenth century. In other ways too, Wallingfen was highly unusual. Not only was a true form of intercommoning practiced here until parliamentary enclosure under an act of 1777, but there is evidence too of a cooperative system of wetland management which fell outside the direct authority of the neighbouring manors or any higher form of overlordship. The survival of precedent rolls and notebooks preserving extracts from the annual court rolls of Wallingfen from as early as 1425 gives a fortuitous and rare picture of the governance of a large wetland common and its resources over a period of several centuries.


Crouch, D., & McDonagh, B. (2016). Turf wars : conflict and cooperation in the management of Wallingfen (East Yorkshire), 1281-1781. The Agricultural history review, 64(2), 133-156

Journal Article Type Review
Acceptance Date Jul 14, 2016
Publication Date 2016-12
Deposit Date Sep 12, 2016
Publicly Available Date Aug 6, 2018
Journal Agricultural history review
Print ISSN 0002-1490
Electronic ISSN 0002-1490
Publisher British Agricultural History Society
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 64
Issue 2
Pages 133-156
Keywords Common rights; Cooperation; Wetland; Intercommoning; Drainage; Enclosure; Governance
Public URL
Additional Information This is a description of an article accepted for publication in: Agricultural history review, 2016.


Published article (826 Kb)

Copyright Statement
©2018 The Authors. Agricultural History Review.

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