This site presents research resources for the study of common land.  The focus of the material collated here is common land in England and Wales, though it will also be of use to those interested in wider aspects of common pool resource management.  It is intended to be of use to scholars, commoners, community groups, stakeholders and others with an interest in common land, past and present.

For details of our conference held at Newcastle on 5th July 2013, please follow this link: SUSTAINING THE COMMONSScales Moor, North Yorkshire (photo, A.J.L. Winchester)

Building Commons Knowledge

The website has been developed by researchers based at Newcastle University Law School and Lancaster University History Department during the course of a one year project (‘Building Commons Knowledge Project’, 2012-2013), funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council.  Our project partners are The National Trust and The Foundation for Common Land.

Resources collated here include materials relating to sustainable governance of modern commons, property rights and environmental law; and materials relating to the history of common land, including those generated by our ‘Commons Stories’ community history programme.  This site also includes extensive archived materials produced by our previous ‘Contested Common Land Project’, which ran from 2007-2010, also funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council.

Eskdale Common, Cumbria

What is common land?

In general terms, common land is land which is owned by one or more parties, over which others have common rights to graze livestock or to collect household materials and wild foods.  Over 500,000 hectares of common land survive in England and Wales today, accounting for some 4% of the land area. Much of this land is marginal in character, comprising mountains and moorlands, coastal strips, wetlands and marshes. These landscapes have historically been, and continue to be, of vital importance to commoners and rural communities, and are of exceptional conservation value. Though seeming ‘wild’, they have a long history of land use and regulation. In addition, some of our most iconic surviving commons are urban, providing much-needed green spaces in towns and cities. For further background information please follow this link: What is common land?


Wandsworth Common, London

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