'Celtic Fields' – Archaeology's stepchildren
Traces of prehistoric farming in Western, Central, Eastern and Northern Europe: On Terminlogy

The graphics shown here are based on laser data; only in very few cases closer investigations or at least own site visits were made. In this respect, the terminology used can primarily only refer to the terrain forms derived from the laser data and is thus a purely morphological terminology, which can lead to many problems of understanding. If, for example, fields rise quite clearly above the assumed natural soil profile (which is usually only recognisable only in more level locations), I assume that it is a result of artificial elevation through the constantly repeated application of farmyard manure or other fertilising material and refer to this as "Esch". Soil scientists and geoarchaeologists, however, speak of Esch soils in also such places where they can prove such an application, even if it is not noticeable in the laser data. Historical geographers use much more detailed definitions, which also include the history of the fields and the older surviving names.

The term ridge-and-furrow beds causes similar problems. From a purely laser-morphological point of view, I refer to all narrow, elongated, parallel and arched beds as ridge-and-furrow beds, irrespective of whether they were originally cultivated as arable land or grassland, and I also accept that in individual cases they may be something quite different, e.g. traces of earlier afforestation or pre-medieval traces. Soil scientists and geoarchaeologists, however, might judge differently and, for example, determine that there are applied soils underneath and talk about Esch soils. Historical geographers would also differentiate considerably more here and distinguish, for example, between grassland cultivation and arable farming, and terms such as 'Gewannfluren' would come into play.

The same applies to long strip fields, which are understood here in purely morphological terms, the differentiation of relief remains from charcaol kilns etc., and not least to the antiquarian term 'Celtic Fields', which is used here in a very broad sense only because it is understood internationally. Dietrich Denecke once drew up a catalogue of criteria for 'Celtic Fields', which seems strikingly plausible, but is hardly enforceable in practice, except in the case of special detailed interdisciplinary case studies.

A division of 'Celtic Fields' into different subtypes is only done here exceptionally and rather unsystematically. Occasionally I separate "long fields", a purely morphological designation for rectangular plots that are more than twice as long as they are wide, but do not have the cross-section typical of ridge-and-furrow beds. One can reasonably distinguish between apparently unplanned, organically grown systems and those systems that presuppose higher-level planning, with all the transitional forms. Furthermore, it must be considered that the builders of the plots were better able to realise their ideas in unstructured lowlands than in hummocky young moraines or in the uplands, where on steeper slopes only terrace formations occur, which have similar or the same shapes from prehistoric times to modern times. In the case of 'Celtic Fields', I largely avoid the term "preservation" and prefer to speak of "pronounciation". It is often difficult to distinguish from the data morphology only whether distinct plots were laid out as ramparts in advance or formed through decades to centuries of growth. In the case of weak plot edges, it often remains unclear whether they were primarily like this or only took on their present form through some kind of flattening, e.g. through centuries of grazing.
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