Stoneham War Shrine     Discovering the Park


North Stoneham Park: its origin and development (1992), by C K Currie


The Saxon landscape: common-pasture

Local charter evidence indicates the presence of large extents of common pasture, and a series of 'ways' or roads throughout the study area. The charter bounds for North Stoneham of A.D. 932 indicates the presence of gated common pasture adjoining the boundary near the area now known as Southampton Common. Further common pasture with gated access is indicated by Saxon charters for neighbouring estates on Horton Heath, and land east of the River Itchen in South Stoneham in the later sub-manors of Allington, Shamblehurst and Townhill. The presence of gateways suggest that these existed for access, and they argue that the common pastures must have been surrounded by a stock-proof boundary to keep animals from wandering on to adjoining farmland (Currie forthcoming).

These early common pastures seem to have been the forerunners of later English commons. This would appear to suggest that within Saxon estates resources were shared, or held 'in common'. There has been much debate over the years as to the origins of common field agriculture, stretching back to Gray (1915) and beyond. The local evidence seems to indicate that extensive areas of pasture were also held in common. They are first mentioned early in the tenth century, when they seem to be well-established entities. Over the course of the medieval period, rights were eroded, and much of the land was enclosed in private estates. Much of this is recorded in twelfth and thirteenth century documents as pressure on land intensified, but it must have began much earlier.