chapter  9
10 Pages

Enclosing the Spirit

ByPeter Read

Wasta Est, the land is laid waste. The phrase is common in the Domesday Book describing the vacant fi elds and empty villages of England following the Norman conquest. Encroachment by the sea, by the plague. and by environmental change put an end to hundreds more English villages by 1400. But the greatest depopulator of English and Scottish villages was the phenomenon known as enclosure, by which hundreds of thousands of hectares of agricultural land were turned to pasture by their owners.