June 11, 2015, by Charlotte Anscombe

University history professor in Countryfile farming feature

A University academic is to appear on BBC’s Countryfile this weekend discussing the origins of an ancient method of agriculture which is still employed by a village in north Nottinghamshire today.

Viewers will see presenter Matt Baker interviewing Professor John Beckett, of the Department of History, during a visit to Laxton near Newark, the last English village still operating  Open Field farming — an agricultural practice which dates back to the Middle Ages.

Professor Beckett, who is President of the Laxton Local History Group and author of the book A History of Laxton: England’s Last Open Field Village, said: “The farming system works because of the manorial court, and for this programme a special meeting of the court was convened so that viewers can see an ancient institution which has probably changed little since the days of Magna Carta.”

The piece is part of a wider programme on the county of Nottinghamshire, which will also see Matt marking the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta by visiting the Parliament Oak in King’s Clipstone —  the tree in Sherwood Forest where King John held early parliaments. He will also be hunting for ancient trees as part of the Woodland Trust’s Tree of the Year campaign.

Co-presenter Ellie Harrison will be spotting falcons in Nottingham city centre with urban birder David Lindo and getting a lesson in horse anatomy with nothing but a tin of paint and a paintbrush, courtesy of Brackenhurst Equestrian Centre.

Professor Beckett is the latest in a number of University academics and students to lend their expertise to Countryfile.

Most recently, Dr Gary Priestnall from the School of Geography was interviewed about his involvement in an exhibition on the Mayson model, a 15-foot 3D model that helped Victorian visitors to plan their tour of the Lake District when arriving by train in Keswick in the 1870s.

PhD student Stephen Jones from Biosciences appeared in August 2014 to talk about establishing The British Quinoa Company, which currently holds the exclusive UK rights to grow the only quinoa varieties bred for the European climate.

Geography students made an appearance in May 2014 while on a field trip in the stunning Cumbrian countryside. Dr Nick Mount spoke to Ellie Harrison about the long and fascinating history of the Blencathra mountain.

The latest BBC Countryfile episode will air on Sunday at 7pm on BBC 1.



Posted in Staff