Contested Common Land

This research project placed the sustainable management of Commons in historical perspective. Four case studies were used to illustrate the changing patterns of land use, differing management principles and regulatory mechanisms applied to common land from the seventeenth century to the modern day. These case studies were drawn from Commons around England and Wales: Eskdale in Cumbria, Ingleton in North Yorkshire, Brancaster and Thornham in Norfolk and the Elan and Claerwen Valleys in Powys.

The research married archival evidence with qualitative data generated by semi-structured interviews with stakeholders in the four case study areas. Virtual Reality imaging software was used to illustrate the impacts of different land management options for delivering sustainable management on the biodiversity and landscape of each case study. It was intended that this would lead to the stakeholder meetings not only providing a forum for the dissemination of the research to key stakeholders and policy makers, but also informing decision-making by stakeholders seeking to improve the management of the commons in the case study areas within the new self-regulatory framework of the Commons Bill 2006.

Our role was to develop the programme for the Virtual Reality imaging. The resulting software, LandNote, provided information on the historical rights, ownership and management as well as details about contemporary environmental governance.

See also: Landnote

See the Contested Common Land project website.


Date: Feb 2007 – May 2010

Funding: AHRC: The Arts and Humanities Research Council. £80,998

Researchers: Chris Rodgers (PI) – Newcastle Law School, Patrick Olivier (CI), Dan JacksonMargherita Pieraccini (Newcastle Law School)

Collaborators:  Angus Winchester and Eleanor Straughton (University of Lancaster).