A History of the British Isles by Jeremy Black (auth.)

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By Jeremy Black (auth.)

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This plays a major role in washing the soil from its uplands. Thus, much of Wales, like much of upland Britain, has relatively poor, often acidic, soil and is unsuitable for continuous or intensive cultivation. This encourages a dependence on the rearing of animals, a form of agriculture that cannot support the higher population levels of arable regions. As in much of the north of England, the more fertile areas of Wales are separated by the poor terrain. There is a limited amount of good land on Anglesey and the northern coast, particularly the vale of Clwyd, and far more in the vale of Glamorgan to the south of the main massif, and in other parts of southern Wales.

The place-names of Scandinavian settlements, with their typical endings of -by and -thorp, are quite extensive in Cumbria and coastal Lancashire. Other Scandinavian place-names occur in parts of Ireland, such as east Antrim. Danish pressure also increased on southern and eastern England. From the mid-ninth century the Vikings came not to plunder, but to conquer and stay. Danish invaders took up winter quarters in south-eastern England: in Thanet in 850 and Sheppey in 854. The 18 A HISTORY OF THE BRITISH ISLES Danish 'Great Army' abandoned operations in northern France and overran East Anglia (865) and Yorkshire (866--7): York was stormed in 866.

16 A HISTORY OF THE BRITISH ISLES Southampton, planned by King Ine of Wessex (688-726), is estimated to have covered Ill acres and was a major centre of trade and minting. Yet, although domestic and foreign trade became more important, agriculture remained dominant. Wool was the major export and towns depended on a rural surplus of food. Agriculture suffered from limited knowledge and technology in, for example, power sources and transmission, and selective breeding of crops and animals. There was a serious shortage of fertiliser, and fields therefore had to be left fallow (uncultivated) to restore their fertility.

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