West Midlands Regional Research Framework for Archaeology, Seminar 5: Dalwood


Medieval town planning: urban landscapes



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2. Medieval town planning: urban landscapes. Plan-form analysis based on 18th or 19th century plans allows a hypothetical interpretation of the medieval plan of smaller towns. These town plans are the result of conscious decisions. Such plan analysis is achievable for every smaller medieval town in the region, and allows comparison with towns with similar morphology. The archaeological study of towns has been characterised by this ‘landscape’ approach since the 1970s. On one hand such studies identify areas of archaeological sensitivity, such as monastic precincts or churchyards which may be obscured by later change, and therefore underlies planning decisions relating to modern development. On the other hand such studies provide the fundamental understanding of the urban landscape and as such are an essential context for archaeological fieldwork.
3. Buildings. Some medieval small towns in the region contain nationally significant groups of medieval buildings (eg Weobley, Herefordshire), and there is potential for developing a more coherent approach to research into medieval urban buildings in the region.

In many much of the medieval housing stock has been replaced. However the buildings of the urban poor do not survive anywhere. There is enormous potential to develop the understanding of medieval vernacular architecture through studies of standing buildings and archaeological evidence. Archaeology can contribute to the understanding of the building types of medieval towns where no medieval houses survive, and to the study of the changing use of building materials (such as the introduction of roof tiles).





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