Inland water transport in Medieval England—the view from the mills: a response to Jones
Journal of Historical Geography, 26 (2000)
Evan Jones has attempted to reconcile the difference between my position on inland water transport in medieval England and that of Edwards and Hindle, and in general I think he has gone a long way in doing so. I certainly have no quarrel with his argument that the extent of the inland waterway system in medieval England changed significantly over time and that the pattern for the later medieval period at least was for a notable reduction of that system due to obstructions and other problems on previously navigable rivers or channels. But I also feel that the reasons for this particular sequence of events are still very unclear and that perhaps we have focused too much on the problem from the perspective of the boatpeople using the rivers, since, after all, it was not they who created the obstructions. In this regard, I would like to follow up on an allusion Jones made to material from a major work I am currently completing on milling in the later middle ages. It seems to me a timely moment to outline some of these results as they apply to river transport, and to provide another viewpoint for the issue.