Settlement patterns and estate landscapes: creating and applying estimations of agricultural potential and population numbers in Annandale, AD 600-1000
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The present thesis is an examination of the early medieval (c. AD 600-1000) territorial divisions, estates and settlement patterns of eastern Dumfriesshire, specifically Annandale, using the parishes of Moffat, Lochmaben and Annan as case studies. The history of this region during the late first millennium AD has received little attention in recent scholarship, which can in part be attributed to the virtual non-existence of written sources before the twelfth century. The obstacle of the limited written evidence can be overcome by using theoretical models which have been created for early medieval territorial units and estates in other parts of northern Britain for which the documentary record is less scarce. One of these models is the multiple estate, also known as shire in a Northumbrian and Scottish context. In this idealised type of estate, a number of townships owe obligations, such as renders in kind or labour services, to a central caput or lord’s hall, which functions as the administrative and legal core. Scholars such as J. E. A. Jolliffe, Glanville R. J. Jones, Angus J. L. Winchester and Geoffrey W. S. Barrow have argued that traces of the multiple estate can be gleaned from the written sources and settlement patterns of eleventh-, twelfth- and thirteenth-century Wales, northern England and eastern Scotland, suggesting a common heritage of pre-Anglo-Saxon territorial organisation. This model can be applied to Dumfriesshire using a multi-disciplinary approach including place-names, medieval and early modern charters, eighteenth-century maps and estate plans, late prehistoric and medieval archaeology as well as spatial GIS analyses. In order to add to the existing body of evidence, a new methodology is proposed which takes into account the agricultural potential of the settlements and territories in Annandale. This approach involves the use of formulae and the reconstruction of land use and land capability to estimate the maximum population which could be supported agriculturally in a given area. The complexity of demographic estimates and agricultural systems means that the calculated numbers should not be understood as absolute values, but rather used to compare territories with each other. The ecclesiastical parishes of Dumfriesshire seem to have been formally established in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, but there is evidence that they represented territorial divisions dating back to before AD 1100. The Anglo-Norman knights’ fees which were created in Annandale in the twelfth century appear to coincide with the parish boundaries, and it is notable that the aforementioned population estimates give similar values for the parishes of Moffat, Lochmaben and Annan, despite the different sizes in area. Place-name patterns for the period from c. AD 700 to 1000 indicate that each parish was sub-divided into territorial or estate units prior to the establishment of Anglo-Norman lordship. In the parish of Moffat, these territorial units are mostly found to coincide with the natural boundaries of the major river valleys. A possible exception may be the group of farms which appear in the early seventeenth century as the barony of Ericstane, encompassing all of Evandale as well as the western banks of upper Annandale. Similarly, the parish of Lochmaben shows traces of two or potentially three early medieval sub-divisions, which may represent small estate units. In the parish of Annan, hints of the same patterns appear, but the evidence does not allow as detailed an examination as in the cases of Lochmaben and Moffat. In the absence of a detailed contemporary written record, much of the aforementioned findings must remain tentative. Nevertheless, the proposed methodology for the assessment of agricultural potential is shown to provide a valuable tool for further studies within Dumfriesshire as well as other regions with similarly limited documentation.