From the Wikipedia:
"Common land (a common) is land owned collectively or by one person, but over which other people have certain traditional rights, such as to allow their livestock to graze upon it, to collect firewood, or to cut turf for fuel. By extension, the term "commons" has come to be applied to other resources which a community has rights or access to. The older texts use the word "common" to denote any such right, but more modern usage is to refer to particular rights of common, and to reserve the name "common" for the land over which the rights are exercised." (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Common_land)
From the Wikipedia:
"Historically most rights of common were appurtenant to particular plots of land, and the commoner would be the person who, for the time being, was the occupier of a particular plot of land (or in the case of turbary, even a particular heath). Some rights of common were said to be in gross, that is, they were unconnected with ownership or tenure of land. This was more usual in regions where commons are more extensive, such as in Northern England or the Fens, but also included many village greens across England and Wales. Most land with appurtenant commons rights is adjacent to the common or even surrounded by it, but in a few cases it may be some considerable distance away.
Example rights of common are:
- Pasture. Right to pasture cattle, horses, sheep or other animals on the common land. The most widespread right.
- Piscary. Right to fish.
- Turbary. Right to take sods of turf for fuel.
- Common of marl. Right to take sand and gravel.
- Mast or pannage. Right to turn out pigs for a period in autumn to eat mast (beech mast, acorns and other nuts).
- Estovers. Right to take sufficient wood for the commoner's house or holding; usually limited to smaller trees, bushes (such as gorse) and fallen branches.
On most commons, rights of pasture and pannage for each commoner are tightly defined by number and type of animal. For example the occupier of a particular cottage might be allowed to graze fifteen cattle, four horses, ponies or donkeys, and fifty geese—the numbers allowed for their neighbours would probably be different. On some commons (such as the New Forest and adjoining commons), the rights are not limited by number, and instead a marking fee is paid each year for each animal turned out." (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Common_land)