During the 12th/13th century, the population in Europe increased markedly, while at the same time numerous innovations and/or technological advances appeared. Whether these changes, to a certain extent, resulted in the notable population growth or were brought about by necessity to cope with greater numbers of people will remain uncertain, yet a correlation is clear.  The enlargement of cultivated areas peaked at a level which had not been reached before nor would ever be reached again, with forests and swamps disappearing at a rate never known prior to this period.  These expansion activities with their inherent forest and land clearing, well exemplified by extensive medieval field systems preserved around the deserted medieval villages of Smedersen and Winnefeld, also contributed to an intensifying and/or consolidation of sovereign power. .
 
Although documentary sources concerning  settlement and land utilisation practices in the Solling are scarce,  it can be assumed the Counts of Dassel, whose focal possessions were located around the Solling and the Reinhardswald, initiated an extension of their authority and brought about economic development of the forest regions and their natural resources and soil potential (wood, iron, clay etc.) in the 12th/13th centuries. At the very latest, sometime before 1210, the Counts transferred their main residence to the castle and new town of  Nienover.   Most likely, a stone church, a simple structure (8.5 to 15.9m) of  average size for a rural place of worship for this time, was erected in the village of Smedersen. Although local organisational structures altered when the County of Nienover was sold to the Guelphs in 1303, with the last remaining inhabitants likely leaving Nienover during the first half of the 14th century,  site finds indicate the church remained in existence into the 15th century. The degradation and overuse of soil, along with extreme climatic events from the second decade of the 14th century accompanied by considerable soil erosion and famine brought about an abrupt about turn for the Upper Solling – a region so obviously well utilised agriculturally  during the 12th/13th century.   To further investigate and clarify this particular predicament and other tangential issues, a soil evaluation research project has been embarked upon in conjunction with the Ecology Centre of the University of  Kiel. (Arno Beyer).
 
The foundation of the castle and market place at Lauenförde, as a Guelph counterpart to the Paderborn-Corvey castle and town of Beverungen (from 1330). would have further contributed to the structural changes within the region from the middle of the 14th century .  During the irresolute times of the Late Middle Ages, marked by economic crises and population decrease, the establishment of a settlement with connection to a nearby castle and town in the Weser valley was likely an attractive proposition considering the increasingly difficult conditions in the Upper Solling. In the course of the 14th and 15th centuries, nearly all villages in the Solling and many places in the Weser valley along with the adjoining side valleys were abandoned. During the 15th century, in the region between Gieselwerder and Lauenförde,  there existed  an unusually high number of market places and market towns, yet almost no villages as such remained. Even these marketing centres suffered from the late medieval crises and most of them found their economic importance and status greatly diminished. One of the contributing incidents leading to total or partial desertion of both villages and towns appears to have been the Soester Fehde,  in the course of which. in 1447,  the church of Lauenförde was burnt down and very likely the churches of Smedersen and Winnefeld suffered the same fate.    
 
[Translation revised by Dr Michael Bendon (Kyoto)]