This section is extracted from a report written by Ian Wesley containing background information from ‘Britain Begins’ by Barry Cunliff.
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The beginning of farming
For over 10,000 years, men and women have fed themselves in the surrounds of East Meon by hunting or cultivating animals and plants. All traces of settlement from the Mesolithic period to the early Anglo- Saxon period are located on the high ground; the valley appears not to have been inhabited until the 8th century AD. Most of the soil has developed since the end of the last Ice Age and is the result of interactions between geology, land use and climate.
The high ground around East Meon is covered by prehistoric field systems referred to as “crop marks” in the world of archaeology as they are preserved as earthworks or soil marks, mostly identified from aerial photography. The small size (35-50m) of these fields implies that each was cultivated by one individual of family. Lynchets, evidence of early ploughing, can often be seen at the upper and lower ends. Large scale Roman agriculture destroyed them in lowland Britain thus they are more common on the undisturbed downland.