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Date:   Monday 11th June 2018

Index:   Central Area

Map:   Go to OS Map

HS2 route plan: Sheet 30

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Last Chance (HS)To See:

Turweston Green

Ploughing through the last remains of the Medieval parish's field system

scene 027 map Turweston is an ancient settlement that, for much of its history, had a system of open fields. These were inclosed relatively late, around 1813, and since then many of these features have been obliterated by ploughing. There is one clear example of this open field system left in the parish – HS2 will plough straight through the middle of it.

Turweston is at the top of the hill, meaning that the cutting at this point is at its deepest. To the west though, as the hillside falls away into the Great Ouse valley, the cutting ends abruptly as the lines transfers onto a short embankment before the Turweston Viaduct – though the noise intrusion is lessened by the fact that the A43 trunk road passes through the valley too.

Use the slider to move the view from side to side.

scene 027 additional 1 The panorama above shows a small field on the north-west corner of the village. As shown in the photograph on the left, the field still has the ridged landform created by the 'ridge and furrow' ploughing of Medieval open fields.

Land inclosure, which also created the system of green lane and footpath 'rights of way' we have today, cut through these ancient land allotments. The plough, in particular the mechanised ploughing of the Twentieth Century, then removed most traces of the Medieval field systems around villages like Turweston.

HS2 cuts through the middle of this field – from the right-side of the house visible on the left of the panorama, across to the hedgerow running along the right end of the panorama.

scene 027 additional 2 The road in the image on the right runs from the village, past the school and up to the top of the hill at Turweston Green. Here a wide overbridge will maintain access from the village to the rights of way which fan-out cross country from this point – though many of the features seen beyond the small sign on the right will be erased by the passing cutting.

Turweston is already affected by noise from the A43. HS2 will add some noise, but by comparison not a lot.

The issue here is that one of the few examples of Turweston's 'non-structural' Medival history, it's Manorial field system, is being erased by the passing of HS2.

The value of this field isn't just visual. The example provided by this little pocket of land is a tangible link to nearly 1000 years of our social and economic history – from Feudalism, through the 300-year political battles of land inclosure, to modern-day agricultural practice. The saga of HS2 is yet another example of those same social and political questions that were at the heart of those ancient debates, which is why they still have relevance today.