Studying Place by Metes and Bounds

Bennington College, 2014-15

Photograph by Don Shall

Metes and Bounds is an English system of describing land that was used in colonial America. The new town of Bennington was described this way in its charter:

The “Tract is to Contain Six Miles Square…Beginning at A Crotched Hemlock Tree Marked W : Six miles Due North of A White Oak Tree Standing in the Northern Boundary Line of the Province of Massachusetts Bay. ”(Vermont Historical Society web site).

The system of Metes and Bounds imprints human meaning and function on the landscape, a spirit that we will follow in this course. We will develop our own approach to studying the place of Bennington, how it came to be in it’s early settlement period, it’s transition from an agrarian, First Congregationalist community on the frontier to a hub of the American industrial revolution. We will consider how the trajectory of Bennington’s history has brought it to it’s present post-industrial phase to question how the particularities of Bennington’s human and natural environments have been touched by the continual movement of people, ideas, capital, and goods through time

Book Chapter, the Challenges of Studying Place

ENV 4232 Studying Place by Metes and Bounds couse syllabus (pdf)