White Rose University Consortium logo
University of Leeds logo University of Sheffield logo York University logo

Weather and Landscape in Eighteenth-Century Cumbria: Towards Inhabited Perspectives on Climate Change

Pillatt, Tobias Adam (2012) Weather and Landscape in Eighteenth-Century Cumbria: Towards Inhabited Perspectives on Climate Change. PhD thesis, University of Sheffield.

Available under License Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.0 UK: England & Wales.

Download (41Mb)


This thesis asks whether there is a role for weather in archaeological narratives. It reviews how other disciplines have developed a sense of climate that is embedded in the human experience of landscape. Then, through the case study of late eighteenth-century Mosser – a small township on the edge of the Cumbrian fells – the thesis examines how and whether experiential perspectives can be incorporated into studies of past climate-society interactions by focussing on weather. This is achieved through the production and comparison of three narratives of change: environmental, landscape and experiential. Existing palaeoclimate studies are examined and critically evaluated in the context of Mosser. An environmental model is constructed for Mosser using Martin Parry's method for identifying climate-caused abandonment on the Lammermuir Hills. A range of secondary sources are used to place eighteenth-century Mosser in historical context. Results from hedge, boundary and upland walkover surveys are analysed, and a combination of primary map and documentary sources are used to examine the Mosser landscape. An experiential narrative is developed from the diaries of Isaac Fletcher and Elihu Robinson, spanning 1756-1805. Qualitative statements on weather are translated into numerical records and compared with instrumental series. The diary entries are analysed to give insights on attitudes to weather in the early modern period. When the narratives are compared, sparsity of data and poor chronological resolution prevent close correlation of trends and events; causality cannot be established. Narratives only become united when interpretation moves away from cause and effect to describe how people's relationships with climate were transformed as part of a wider transition into modernity. The thesis concludes by reflecting on the wider implications of the case study, and it relates the experiences of the eighteenth-century diarists with current approaches to climate within archaeology. Overall, the thesis demonstrates that weather is a material condition of landscape – something as much open to archaeological investigation as any other aspect of the past.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: Landscape archaeology, weather, climate, climate change, human-environment relations, eighteenth century, Mosser, Cumbria, Lake District
Academic Units: The University of Sheffield > Faculty of Arts and Humanities (Sheffield) > Archaeology (Sheffield)
The University of Sheffield > Faculty of Science (Sheffield) > Archaeology (Sheffield)
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.557546
Depositing User: Dr Toby Pillatt
Date Deposited: 30 Jul 2012 15:39
Last Modified: 27 Apr 2016 14:11
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/2556

Actions (repository staff only: login required)