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Suffolk Deer Parks

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Dr Rosemary Hoppitt describes the making and management of medieval deer parks throughout Suffolk

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Deer parks were prominent features in the Suffolk landscape from the medieval period onward. They occupied hundreds of acres of enclosed woodland and pasture but were also symbolic features signalling the status, power and control of their owners in both the landscape and in society.

At one end of the social spectrum park-keepers dealt with their yearly round of maintenance and management. At the other end, the aristocracy and religiosi enclosed land and indulged in hunting, entertaining friends, dispensing largesse and feasting on venison.

Rosemary draws on evidence from the landscape and from a rich archive of documentary sources to provide an insight into the way the medieval landscape was shaped and managed to provide entertainment and reinforce status beyond providing food and fuel.

Dr Rosemary Hoppitt studied geography and archaeology at the University of Birmingham which fuelled an interest in medieval settlement, particularly moated sites. Alongside a career teaching Geography, this interest was maintained as she began to investigate Suffolk moats associated with parks; over time the parks became the focus of the study which developed into a PhD presented in 1992 at the University of East Anglia. Research has been on-going since then.

In her recent book Rosemary investigates and offers explanations for the patterns and processes of imparking across the county with detailed analyses of over fifty of the county’s one hundred and thirty parks that have existed between 1086 and 1602.

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