Designs Upon the Land

March 2009
12 colour, 33 black and white, 35 line illustrations
272 pages
23.4x15.6 cm
Garden and Landscape History
Boydell Press
BIC AMV, 1D, 2AB, 3H

Designs Upon the Land

Elite Landscapes of the Middle Ages

Oliver H. Creighton


Hardback out of stock

A wide-ranging and accessibly written account of designed medieval landscapes.
The phrase "designed landscape" is generally associated with the great parks and gardens of the post-medieval period, with grand country houses surrounded by parkland, such as Chatsworth and Longleat. However, recent research has made it clear that its origins lie much further back than that, in the middle ages, and numerous examples have been identified. This book offers the first full-length survey of designed medieval landscapes, not just the settings for castles, but for palaces, manor houses and monastic institutions. Gardens and pleasure grounds gave their owners sensory enjoyment; lakes, ponds and walkways created routes of approach that displayed residences to best effect; deer parks were stunning backdrops and venues for aristocratic enjoyment; and peacocks, swans, rabbits and doves were some of the many species which lent these landscapes their elite appearance. Richly illustrated with plans, maps, and photographs of key sites showing what can still be seen today.

Oliver H. Creighton is Associate Professor in Archaeology, University of Exeter

Table of Contents

Introduction: Approaching Designed Landscapes
Sources and Approaches
The Inner Core: House, Garden and Setting
Shaping Nature: Animals and Estates
Parkscapes and Communities
Seeing and Believing: Understanding Designed Landscapes
Touchstones to the Past: Legacies


A thought-provoking and timely overview of medieval elite landscapes. [...] This volume offers the first attempt to pull together a great deal of detailed research in an interpretative analysis with many plans and illustrations. ENGLISH HISTORICAL REVIEW
A stimulating study. Creighton has certainly achieved his stated aim of demonstrating that the medieval social elite did commission and appreciate designed landscapes, though their motives and perceptions were not always the same as those of later centuries. JOURNAL OF MEDIEVAL ARCHAEOLOGY
This is a stimulating study and Creighton has certainly achieved his stated aim of demonstrating that the medieval social elite did commission and appreciate designed landscapes. MEDIEVAL ARCHAEOLOGY
Creighton has produced an eminently readable, accessible, and thoroughly researched assessment of the character and purpose of medieval elite landscapes in the British Isles. [...] This book is an important study that demonstrates the key role archaeology should play in the study of medieval elite culture. SPECULUM
Whether to those new to the subject, or to those well read in it, this study can be unreservedly recommended. LANDSCAPE HISTORY
An admirable scholarly work with an easy command of a wide range of literature. ... [This] study ultimately succeeds in making us recognise that medieval elite landscapes were planned by people living and working within a complex and sophisticated culture which embraced and celebrated relationships to nature and environment that were very different to our own. ENVIRONMENT & HISTORY
Creighton has written an impressive book that gives a general picture of a vivid and exciting field of research. This book should be on the bookshelf of anyone interested in castles, residences, gardens and medieval élite landscapes. EUROPEAN JOURNAL OF ARCHAEOLOGY
This stimulating book deserves to be read not just for its theory, but for its wide geographical range of little known sites. WWW.GARDENHISTORYINSTITUTE.CO.UK
An excellent survey [that] will certainly make you reconsider many modern reconstructions of medieval gardens and landscapes. [...] Highly recommended. CHICAGO BOTANIC GARDEN
Rescues the study of castles from their purely militaristic contexts and re-establishes them as places that are as much about poetry, art and the intellect as they are about the clash of swords. CURRENT ARCHAEOLOGY

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