Spatial Rural History. Analysing the Frisian Medieval Power Scape in an Interdisciplinary Perspective

Bos, J. (Speaker)

Activity: Talk or presentationAcademic


Throughout history power relations between people get expressed by means of possession and rights to certain services. Those at a more elevated position on the social hierarchy get to impose taxes. These power relations give rise to the so called power scape, in which these power relations take on a geographical nature. The Napoleonic cadastre (established in the Netherlands in 1832) has proved to be of great use when delving into these relations, because it is able to firmly identify those that possess the land. By using this as a jumping board, early modern and medieval power relations can be discovered using a retrospective method.

In this case, the property of the Frisian aristocracy and hereditary owners of farmsteads in the 16th century is investigated by analysing the location. The analysis is put in an interdisciplinary context in which the landscape is seen by it’s multilayeredness of substratum, networks and occupation. This paper will present the first results of this research.

Several technical tools that were used to unlock this information on a spatial level are presented. Tools and data from Physical Geography (i.e. LIDAR-data, developed in a High Performance Computing Network project to fit these needs) were used to unlock the physical landscape of the past. IT-innovations and advanced mathematics were used to untwine the plethora of interlinked cadastral maps. To this end, a georeferencing-tool was developed to accommodate the needs of the system of interlinked maps. And last but not least, parcel data was processed with the OpenStreetMap-software stack, in order to produce a clear and readable map.
Period21 Sep 2018
Degree of RecognitionInternational


  • HGIS
  • Spatial Humanities
  • Rural History