Present Day Historic Landscape Character

Overview map of Historic Landscape Character

The AONB Historic Landscape Characterisation has looked in great detail at the current historic landscape character of the AONB. For the first time it is possible to quantify the historic character of the landscape as it exists today.

Click map for large PDF version (496Kb)

For example, of the 77,916 hectares of enclosed land within the AONB, 15% retains characteristics which are pre 1800 in origin. 37% retains 18th and 19th century characteristics. 43% is predominantly 20th century in character, while 5% reflects enclosed types such as assarts and orchards which date from a range of periods.

Each of these types can be explored in greater detail. The 18th and 19th century fields, for example, are dominated by fields created through formal and informal parliamentary enclosure. These are often regular in shape with straight boundaries and a planned form. However, other fields are also represented from this period - these have different morphologies and reflect different historical processes such as the reorganisation of earlier field boundaries and the improvement of downland.

The map shows an overview of the historic character of the AONB. One key pattern which can be seen is the dominance of pre 1800 fields, assarts, old woodland and common land in the area just north of Shaftesbury. This clearly demonstrates that this area contains a landscape whose character shows considerable antiquity.

For more detailed information on the AONB Historic Landscape Characterisation click here.