Farming in Northamptonshire
For much of the year, we give little attention to the fields we drive past. But at harvest time and on into ploughing, the activity and sudden changes in appearance remind us that we live in a farming county.
Across England, about 70% of the land area is given over to agriculture. A little over a third of that is under crops and the rest is mostly a mixture of pasture and woodland. The statistics often surprise people who live in towns. For example, would you expect that about 84% of East Northamptonshire is farmland and just 4% of South Northamptonshire is built on? (more details »)
Farming in Northamptonshire goes all the way back to the time some humans settled from a foraging lifestyle. As one example among many, archaeological research at Dallington has revealed enclosures for cattle and sheep dating from about 6000 years ago (image »)
Much later, we are all familiar with medieval "ridge and furrow" features in our landscape. The pastures by the Oxford Canal in this picture are about a mile north-west of Braunston. (about "ridge and furrow" »)
Photo: cc-by-sa/2.0 - © Roger Kidd - geograph.org.uk/p/5780124
Through the Middle Ages and later, Northamptonshire was renowned for the production of wool and leather, the latter leading to Northampton's fame as a centre for the boot and shoe industry. The wealth these produced allowed tiny villages to afford huge churches like the one at Orlingbury.
There is an overview of our Historic Landscapes and, in particular, of the details of Enclosure, on NNC's "Enjoy Northamptonshire's Heritage" website (visit now »)
We are fortunate to live in a county with a rich diversity of land use. Today we even have vineyards here! (New Lodge Vineyard ») Of course the amount of built-on land is increasing all the time to meet the need to house the ever-growing population. Planning and management needs great care but, with that, there is no reason to doubt that we will continue to enjoy open spaces around us for generations to come.
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