The Development of the Landscape: History and Geology

John Williams


At first sight, the countryside around Cottenham may seem neither particularly beautiful nor especially interesting. There is hardly anything that counts as a hill, let alone a mountain. There is no established woodland, and relatively few large mature trees. Fields are generally large, and many are bordered by straight ditches rather than picturesque hedgerows. Perhaps the only obviously beautifu feature is the wide open sky, rather than anything on the land itself.

And yet, many people who live in Cottenham have a deep affection for the landscape that grows the more they get to know it. Much of the interest and distinctiveness of the area is not obvious, but derives from the layers of history that underly what we see today. In fact, the landscape around Cottenham has changed more radically, and more often, than almost any other place in Britain.


Under the Surface
Geology and the Landscape
Early History
Types of Land in Medieval Cottenham
Evolving Economy and Management
Water: Transport and Drainage
Enclosure, 1842-7
Orchards and Fruit Growing
The Future?
Sources and further reading