Medieval ‘Footprints’ in Birmingham

All my life I have watched my home city, Birmingham being rebuilt, piecemeal. True, we go through periods of phased development – the Jewellery Quarter – where I live – appears to evidence speculative building, and we are in such a phase now – if you define now as a span of time stretching from the early 90s to around 2020.
To me, the beauty of this city lies in the fact that it persistently, continuously develops, reinvents and redefines itself. It is a mish-mash – and as such, rich in historical instruction.
It has always fascinated me how place names and ancient boundaries persist, even after the bombs and the wreckers’ balls have gone.

The title of this blog doesn’t refer to the sort of footprints you leave behind in the mud or snow, but rather the type that define the area or space occupied by a building, or in this instance the boundaries of a burgage plot. By ‘burgage’, I’m referring to the long and narrow strips of land arranged along street frontages that functioned as the basic units of a town that could be built upon.

So perhaps footprints isn’t the best word to use, because I’m actually referring to plot boundaries rather than the actual buildings. But, footprints is, in another sense, an appropriate word to use as it calls to mind the idea of ‘evidence’ left behind and that’s exactly what the landscape historian and archaeologist has to work with when attempting to reconstruct medieval towns. For a city that’s never been overly keen on preserving its most recent heritage, it…

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Author: gogwit

One foot in Sanity, the other in the adjoining parish, usually in the vicinity of the boundary between the two but sometimes straying into the main square of either and very occasionally taking occupation of the Town Hall...

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