By Adriaan Verhulst
Medieval Settlement Research Group, Vol.13 (1998)
Introduction: Since the eighties and increasingly during the nineties there has been a renewed interest on the continent in medieval rural settlement, mainly among archaeologists and geographers. This overview of research in this field in continental north-west Europe during recent decades is intended to explain this development.
From the middle of the fifties English scholars pioneered medieval field archaeology. They founded the Deserted Medieval Villages Research Group, later changed to Medieval Village Research Group and now since 1985 the Medieval Settlement Research Group. Their work, set up by Maurice Beresford and John Hurst, provoked great interest on the continent.
Although the German geographical tradition in the field of “Settlement History” (Siedlungsgeschichte) with illustrious names like Gradmann, Martiny, Niemeier, Muller-Wille and Mortensen. was continued after the war by Anneliese Krenzlin, Martin Born and Hans-Jurgen Nitz, a decisive step to a renewal of the subject on the English model were the conferences organised during the seventies by the famous archaeologist Herbert Jankuhn under the auspices of the Gottingen Academy. Several volumes on the early medieval village and on early medieval fields resulted from these meetings between archaeologists, historians, geographers and linguists. The importance of the yearbook Siedlungsforschung. Archdologie-Geschichte-Geographie, edited since 1983 by Klaus Fehn, testifies to the liveliness of research on rural settlements in central and continental north-west Europe.