Warren (domestic)
A domestic warren is an artificial, enclosed establishment of animal husbandry
Animal husbandry
Animal husbandry is the agricultural practice of breeding and raising livestock.- History :Animal husbandry has been practiced for thousands of years, since the first domestication of animals....

 dedicated to the raising of rabbits
European Rabbit
The European Rabbit or Common Rabbit is a species of rabbit native to south west Europe and north west Africa . It has been widely introduced elsewhere often with devastating effects on local biodiversity...

 for meat and fur. It evolved from the Anglo-Norman
The Anglo-Normans were mainly the descendants of the Normans who ruled England following the Norman conquest by William the Conqueror in 1066. A small number of Normans were already settled in England prior to the conquest...

 concept of free warren, which had been, essentially, the equivalent of a hunting
Hunting is the practice of pursuing any living thing, usually wildlife, for food, recreation, or trade. In present-day use, the term refers to lawful hunting, as distinguished from poaching, which is the killing, trapping or capture of the hunted species contrary to applicable law...

The verb license or grant licence means to give permission. The noun license or licence refers to that permission as well as to the document recording that permission.A license may be granted by a party to another party as an element of an agreement...

 for a given woodland
Ecologically, a woodland is a low-density forest forming open habitats with plenty of sunlight and limited shade. Woodlands may support an understory of shrubs and herbaceous plants including grasses. Woodland may form a transition to shrubland under drier conditions or during early stages of...


Architecture of the domestic warren

The cunicularia of the monasteries may have more closely resembled hutch
-People:* Ken Hutcherson, former National Football League linebacker, pastor of Antioch Bible Church in Kirkland, Washington* Leslie Hutchinson, a popular singer of the 1930s known as 'Hutch'* Jesse Hutch, actor...

es or pens, than the open enclosures with specialized structures which the domestic warren eventually became. Such an enclosure or close was called a cony-garth, or sometimes conegar, coneygree or "bury" (from "burrow").

Moat and pale

To keep the rabbits from escaping, domestic warrens were usually provided with a fairly substantive moat
A moat is a deep, broad ditch, either dry or filled with water, that surrounds a castle, other building or town, historically to provide it with a preliminary line of defence. In some places moats evolved into more extensive water defences, including natural or artificial lakes, dams and sluices...

, or ditch filled with water. Rabbits generally do not swim and avoid water. A pale, or fence, was provided to exclude predators.

Pillow mounds

The most characteristic structure of the "cony-garth" ("rabbit-yard") is the pillow mound. These were "pillow-like", oblong mounds with flat tops, frequently described as being "cigar-shaped", and sometimes arranged like the letter or into more extensive, interconnected rows. Often these were provided with pre-built, stone-lined tunnels. The preferred orientation was on a gentle slope, with the arms extending downhill, to facilitate drainage. The soil needed to be soft, to accommodate further burrowing. See Schematic diagram of a pillow mound.

This type of architecture and animal husbandry has become obsolete, but numerous pillow mounds are still to be found in Britain
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

, some of them maintained by English Heritage
English Heritage
English Heritage . is an executive non-departmental public body of the British Government sponsored by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport...



Further evolution of the term

Ultimately, the term warren was generalized to include wild burrows:

The word thus became used of a piece of ground preserved for these beasts of warren. It is now applied loosely to any piece of ground, whether preserved or not, where rabbits breed (see FOREST LAWS).

The use is further extended to any system of burrows, e.g. prairie dog
Prairie dog
Prairie dogs are burrowing rodents native to the grasslands of North America. There are five different species of prairie dogs: black-tailed, white-tailed, Gunnison's, Utah and Mexican prairie dogs. They are a type of ground squirrel, found in the United States, Canada and Mexico...

. By 1649 the term is found applied to inferior, crowded human accommodations in the meaning "cluster of densely populated living spaces" (OED). Contemporarily the leading use seems to be in the stock phrase "warren of cubicles" in the workplace.
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