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Monday 15 March (2pm)
Agriculture on the hoof
Dr Andrew Margetts (UCL), ‘“The Wandering Herd”: the medieval cattle economy of south-east England, c. 450-1450’
The British countryside is on the brink of change. With the withdrawal of EU subsidies, threats of US style factory farming and the promotion of ‘rewilding’ initiatives, never before has so much uncertainty and opportunity surrounded our landscape. How we shape our prospective environment can be informed by bygone practice, as well as through engagement with livestock and landscapes long since vanished. This talk will introduce the key findings of a new book entitled The Wandering Herd. The author hopes this study will change ingrained perceptions regarding the nature of pastoralism within South-East England over the longue durĂ©e of the medieval period. It shows the importance of cattle within the evolution of the area’s society, settlement and landscape.
Dr Andrew Margetts is post-excavation project manager at Archaeology South-east and the author of The Wandering Herd: available now from Windgather Press/Oxbow.
Dr Eugene Costello (University College, Cork, Ireland), ‘Feeding capitalism and facing its consequences? Upland pastoralism in Ireland and Sweden, c.1350-1850’
This paper presents initial results from my new project on the influence (and experience) of livestock-rearing communities in north-west Europe during the emergence of capitalism. With their extensive tracts of pasture, upland regions such as western Ireland and inland Scandinavia offer a window into the role of meat and dairy production in feeding early modern capitalism, for example, the provisioning of New World colonies and the supply of industrial mining towns in Sweden. My new project aims to bridge the periphery-core gap using a multi-disciplinary landscape approach. This will allow us to assess whether ‘peripheral’ upland farmers were knowledgeable agents in commercialisation, and lay down a roadmap for tracking the influence of upland communities elsewhere in early-modern Europe. For this paper, I will focus on the first stage of my research, namely, the historical and archaeological evidence for changing husbandry practices and the landscape impact of these changes based on pollen records from Ireland and Sweden.
Dr Costello currently holds the National University of Ireland Postdoctoral Fellowship in Humanities, and from late this year will lead a Swedish Research Council project grant and Marie-Sklodowska Curie Fellowship. In the past, he has served as a postdoctoral fellow in environmental humanities at Stockholm University, a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellow at University of Notre Dame, and a lecturer in NUI Galway. He received his PhD from NUI Galway in 2016, and this was recently published as a book with Boydell & Brewer, entitled Transhumance and the Making of Ireland’s Uplands, 1550-1900’.

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