Nicolae Muică †(a), David Turnock (b)
(a) Institute of Geography, Bucharest, România
(b) Geography Department, University of Leicester, U.K.
The Subcarpathians are well-known as a relatively well-settled region since early times. But it is also evident that the majority of settlements are relatively modern and reflect the expansion of subsistence farming from the major valleys on to the hillsides during a period of acute population pressure in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. This phase of growth is investigated in the context of the Pătârlagele Depression through toponomy, with the names used by topographical maps – and such key texts as Iorgulescu’s work of 1892 – supplemented by exhaustive research into the oral evidence, much of which can reasonably be linked with this period of expansion. The paper pays particular attention to landslide areas that were often attractive to pioneer peasant farmers on account of their soil fertility and moisture context. It is evident that many areas used today for hay, pasture and plum orchards were well cultivated until cereal lands were acquired in the Bărăgan Plain under the 1923 land reform and economic diversification accelerated after 1945. Toponomy is therefore presented as a major source for the reconstruction of an important phase of rural settlement.
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