14th Century English Garden Challenges Historic Views of Landscaping

National Geographic: The remains of a 700-year-old garden in Shropshire, England may challenge opinions of what constituted a medieval garden, according to a recent article from National Geographic News. Whittington Castle in Shropshire, England is the site of the oldest garden yet discovered in England and could substantially change the understanding of medieval gardening. The site includes an elaborate water system and "viewing mounts" by which the wealthy owners could enjoy the sight of their gardens.

Recent discoveries have shown that elaborate gardens were common among the wealthy in the later Middle Ages and this garden seems to be of that type. Researchers are quick to point out, however, that they have yet to completely document this garden which could change ideas on how medieval gardens were laid out.

"Medieval gardens were nearly always rectangular, with very few curves," said Peter Brown, an archaeologist who coordinates historical research at the castle. "The paths within the garden and the flower beds were laid out in a totally geometric pattern. That's what we expected to find. But the layout of the garden at Whittington is completely odd. The orientation is fundamentally different and clearly designed to be seen from the viewing mount."

The search for written documentation of the site will continue.

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