Subtypes Commons - Common pasture/ Common waste/Common woodland

Permanent grass-land used for common grazing has been referred to as common pasture.  The terms common waste or common refer to common land on which a wider range of resources may have been available. More often than not this was grass land used mainly for common pasture. But on some common wastes, rights to gather wood, gorse, heather, and bracken, or to dig peat might also be important (and sometimes more important).

In England waste is sometimes used with the connotation of uncultivated or unimproved land, whether subject to common rights or not. ‘Common’ is of course the most widely used shorthand for this kind of land, and often a reference to the ‘commons’ is simply a reference to an area of ‘common waste’.

In the northern English uplands in the Early Modern Period some of the better common pastures on the lower slopes were physically enclosed (normally by stone walls) from the more extensive common waste.  These enclosed areas remained common pasture but were physically distinct from the common waste and this allowed them to be used differently. 

In England 'waste' could also encompass wooded areas, which was not always the case elsewhere. In these continental areas, woodland subject to common rights was often treated as distinct from non-wooded areas.


(De Moor et al. 2002, 19)



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