I am proud to number amongst my acquaintance, Dr J – I would add ‘of Sheffield’ but that he is so often to be found in Lichfield – or any other field come to that. Though not an enthusiast for office life, Dr J remains a sleek and well-groomed man, one who might earn himself a considerable income from modelling clothes for field archaeologists. Trousers with large pockets feature largely in his costume, and it was from just such a pocket that he drew out a paper, screwed it into a cone, filled it with questions and offered it to me, much as one might share a packet of chips. Uppermost amongst his concerns was the deer house, and how could he find out more about deer houses, and was there a gazetteer of deer houses. I was but little able to help him but we agreed that a deer house was likely to be an open-sided shelter in which forage might be set for feeding the deer in winter. I was too timid perhaps in the presence of such an authority, but might have suggested that these deer houses tend to be recorded in the 18th century – at Chatsworth, at Croxton, at Dunham Massey for example, and that they are not so far removed in style from the ‘shade’, or open-sided shed, often set in a walled yard, and designed for folding sheep or cattle. I had in mind the shade of that type to be found by the Mill Field Avenue at Burton Constable which was set into a yard. Might one conclude that the similarities between the shade and the deer house are more than coincidental, and that there was an idea in the eighteenth century that deer too might be folded, or at least encouraged by feeding to manure the parkland near the deer house, so that this might be picked up and carried to the arable land? Though common enough, deer houses are by no means ubiquitous and there is no particular association between them and landscapes attributed to the A1 artist of arboreal arrangement, Capability Brown. If there was an idea therefore that deer could be turned to some use as producers of manure, then it would seem that Brown was having none of it.