Late prehistoric Celtic fields and medieval common woodlands. Some reflections on their landscape historical interrelation and a remarkable landscape transition.

Theo Spek*, Harm Smeenge

*Corresponding author for this work

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    Abstract

    Until recently, Celtic fields could only be distinguished on aerial photographs, especially in open landscapes like arable fields and heathlands. With the emergence of lidar data, however, a new set of these late prehistoric fields have been discovered in afforested areas. A closer examination of the about two hundred known Celtic fields in The Netherlands revealed that about 50-60 percent of them are situated in former common woodlands dating from the later Middle Ages. Apparently, there is a causal connection between the two. After the abandonment of the Celtic fields in the Early Roman period woodland regeneration on these nutrient rich soils was probably more prominent than on the surrounding podzolised soils. Archeological excavations and modern-day field research reveal that there could have been possible interphase of early and high medieval coppice woods on former Celtic fields, which were used for large-scale charcoal production supplying local and regional iron industries. This would diachronically and topographically connect three main narratives of Dutch sandy landscapes i.e. late prehistoric working landscapes, early and high medieval iron production and late medieval and early modern common woodlands.

    Translated title of the contributionLate prehistoric Celtic fields and medieval common woodlands. Some reflections on their landscape historical interrelation and a remarkable landscape transition.
    Original languageDutch
    Pages (from-to)223-242
    Number of pages20
    JournalTijdschrift voor Historische Geografie
    Volume6
    Issue number3
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2021

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