Water Meadows: History, Ecology and Conservation

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Hadrian F. Cook, Tom Williamson
Windgather Press Limited, 2007 - Nature - 151 pages
This book brings to public attention some of the most evocative and threatened features of the landscape of southern England. Water meadows work with nature to improve agricultural productivity, whilst providing rich habitats for wildlife such as water voles, waders and grass snakes. They are areas of low-lying grassland which are regularly 'drowned' - artificially irrigated - at certain times of the year, to stimulate the early growth of grass in the spring. Only a few remain in operation today, though they played a crucial role in Britains past farming economy. Their archaeological remains can be found all over southern England, with Hampshire and Wiltshire having perhaps the best surviving examples. In this book leading archaeologists and scientists - together with one of the last practising 'drowners' - explore the ecology and history of water meadows. They ask when and where the art of floating originated, and explain its hydrology. They also investigate water meadows conservation status and potential for the future.

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The Archaeology of Water Meadows
Water flowing through the sward of a bedwork meadow 78 Water Meadows
Meadows in the Long Term

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About the author (2007)

Hadrian Cook teaches and writes on environmental science, environmental policy and landscape history. He was educated in the universities of Sheffield, London and East Anglia and taught in schools before taking up a teaching appointment at Wye College and Imperial College within the University of London. He presently teaches at Kingston University and in adult education.

Tom Williamson was born in Hemel Hemstead in Hertfordshire, and was brought up in Bushey, before reading history and archaeology at Jesus College, Cambridge. Since 1984 he has taught at the University of East Anglia. He is now Professor of Landscape History there, and has written widely on landscape archaeology, agricultural history and the history of landscape design. He has a particular interest in the landscape history of Hertfordshire.

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