Ridge and Furrow field in Bonsall – a remnant of medieval farming practice
In walk number 5, The Landscape of Bonsall, you can see examples of different archaeological features on view, some made through medieval farming practices.
One landscape feature to look out for is the ‘corrugated’ look on some fields, created because of the ridge and furrow method of farming. There are a few of fields with a corrugated look dotted around the village. “Each field was divided into furlongs (long furrows), which in turn were split into strips. An individual’s strip was not in one parcel but scattered throughout the open fields to include both good and less-desirable land.”
“As oxen, and later horses, trudged up and down pulling a plough, earth was banked up forming characteristic ridges and furrows.”. Bonsall – A Village and its History
For further information on Ridge and Furrow in the UK see:
Plough Plays, mummers plays and the like were performed in January for entertainment: “Twelve Night was the period of celebration between the Winter Solstice and the New Year until the Reformation. Farm work traditionally resumed in England on the first Monday after Twelfth Night (January 6th), which was the end of the Christmas season. This was the time of year when plowing began for the spring grains. This isn’t really the most appropriate time to plow in England, where the winter rains are likely to make the ground too wet, or even worse, it may be frozen. Still this was the custom”. For more information see http://piereligion.org/plowsongs.html
Here’s a lovely performance of an old Plough song…….