Plough the fields and scatter – The Landscape of Bonsall Walk number 5

Ridge and Furrow field in Bonsall

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.” Ridge&Furrow2
 “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
Horse ploughing - courtesy of Pegtop Farm, Woodeaton

Horse ploughing – courtesy of Pegtop Farm, Woodeaton

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
Here’s a lovely performance of an old Plough song…….

Bonsall Wildlife Talk starts at 7pm 16th February

Talk on Bonsall's wildlife - talk starts at 7pm

Talk on Bonsall’s wildlife – talk starts at 7pm

Sorry! the talk by  Dan Abrahams starts at 7pm and not 7.30pm – don’t be late (if you are it’s my fault!).

Bonsall Village Hall, 7pm Saturday February 16th


Discover Bonsall’s wildlife: Talk by Natural England at the Village Hall, Sat 16th February – all welcome

Bonsall Moor

Bonsall Moor

Natural England’s Dan Abrahams, Lead Adviser (SSSIs), is coming to the village hall to talk about why Bonsall is so special when it comes to landscape, flora and fauna. Dan will be telling us about the unique flora that has evolved on Bonsall Moor and other sites. “There are a number of SSSIs around Bonsall (Via Gellia Woodlands, Bonsall Leys, Masson Hill, Rose End Meadows). Via Gellia and Bonsall Leys are within the Parish itself,” Dan said.

Sat. 16th February. Bonsall Village Hall 7.30pm

Mountain pansies on Bonsall Moor

Mountain pansies on Bonsall Moor

From coral seas, through Ice Ages, tundra and wildwood to the Bonsall Moor of today we travel through a three hundred and fifty million years to trace the origins of the Bonsall landscape and the wildlife that it supports.

Leadwort on the spoil heaps on Bonsall Moor

Leadwort on the spoil heaps on Bonsall Moor

A Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) means the site is one of the country’s very best wildlife and/or geological sites. SSSIs include some of the most spectacular and beautiful habitats: in Bonsall this comprises of the species-rich limestone grassland on Bonsall Moor which supports unusual and interesting plants, parts of the Via Gellia woodlands and Masson Hill. Nearby in Cromford is Rose End Meadows and the Cromford Canal.

Wild Orchids

Wild Orchids


Visit to the Black Country Museum : A trip down memory lane….

Karen and Slack's Coach driver welcome us on board

Karen and Slack’s Coach driver welcome us on board

As part of the Bonsall History Trails Project a busload of Bonsallites got the Slack’s charabang to The Black Country Museum of Living last Saturday. It was a cold but fascinating experience. Some went down the mine, some straight to the charming ‘sawdust on the floor boozer’, and some flitted from coal fire to coal fire. It seemed that every little corner of the many brick built houses had a lovely range or fire to warm yourself by.

Fish and Chips fried in beef dripping..ummmm

Fish and Chips fried in beef dripping..ummmm in the 80 year old fryer

And you got the chat – Dudley style. It was great to meet the various characters who inhabit the 26 acre site and listen to their descriptions of how tough life was between the 30’s and 50’s but also see how characterful and interesting the various the shops were. We’ve lost so much over the last 50 years – the shops here justify the phrase ‘shopping experience’.  The perfect antidote to the nippy weather was either Mushy Peas and Faggots or Fish and Chips (fried in beef dripping!).

 A welcome coal fire awaits in the wartime house

A welcome coal fire awaits in the wartime house – rationing was in force

Many of the shops and workshops (including the chippy) could have been on Yeoman Street or High Street anytime between the 40’s and 60’s. For anyone over 50 it was pure nostalgia. Many of the small forges, shoemakers and leather working shops again could have been around in Bonsall within living memory.

The charming 1930s kitchen

The charming 1930s kitchen

We left at 3.15pm but could have seen more. A great day out, highly recommended both for young and old – and a interesting look at what Bonsall shops, pubs and workplaces had to offer in days gone by. Thanks to Slacks Coaches for the excellent driving

Bonsall Trails Geology and Landscape Walking leaflet

Working on the first Bonsall Trails walking leaflet

Working on the first Bonsall Trails walking leaflet

Designer/Illustrator Jonathan hard at work on the Geology and Leadmining trail. Jonathan said “In years gone by the Lead Miners of Bonsall Moor would dig deep and follow rakes of lead – we’re going to do the same thing with Bonsall’s Heritage”.

In the Bleak Midwinter on Bonsall Moor

Part of the route of the Geology and Leadmining walking trail

Part of the route of the Geology and Leadmining walking trail

Bonsall Moor is looking beautiful and wintry today – lots of snow and lots of prints of hare, rabbit and fox.  There is a large white barn owl flying around at dusk too. The photo above leading up to Bonsall Moor, is part of one of the walking routes about Geology and Leadmining being devised as part of the Heritage Lottery Funded Bonsall Trails project. Highlights of this walk will be the numerous leadmines on Bonsall Moor and the rare flora that has evolved because of the geology and leadmining. The Bonsall Trails will be 6 walking routes with 6 themed leaflets to go with each route which will explore different aspects of the history of Bonsall. There are lots of activities and events planned as part of this project – have a look at the Programme of Events page on this blog to find out what’s happening.

Visit to Peak District Mining Museum at Matlock Bath

On a bright sunny January Sunday a small group of Bonsallites headed out of the frost and sun and into the darker recesses of the Peak District Mining Museum at Matlock Bath to investigate our mining past. We were treated to a guided tour of the museum but the Temple Mine was closed because of the record amounts of rainfall recently.

Our guide gave us a quirky but interesting take on why our area is so rich in minerals and the various ways people have managed to get them out of the ground. With smaller mines like those on Bonsall Moor it was often a family affair – men down the mine getting the ore, women on top smashing the rock and washing the ore and sometimes the kids on top helping to pump water out or to ventilate the shafts.Image

As we progressed through the curious and interesting displays of mining history – from the Romans to the modern day – the kids disappeared into the rest of the museum to press buttons, turn handles and discuss the finer points of Toadstone (!).Image

Getting water out of the mine so you can get at the minerals was a big problem.Here’s one way of dealing with it. A hollow tree with a continuous rope passed through it with attached leather discs working out of a sump (a depression in the base of the mine to collect water). See video below.

It was fun and very informative – giving us a reminder of how very difficult it was for our forbears to make a living from beneath the ground.

Look forward to our next outing – The Black Country Museum on 2nd Feb. See you there – book by calling Karen on 07903 092276.

Bonsall History Trail Social Media Workshop at the Barley Mow pub, Bonsall

We’d like to thank Collette and Dave for letting us use their lovely pub the Barley Mow, Bonsall for our very convivial Social Media Workshop with Lucie Kerley, Digital Participation Manager and Blogger. Yesterday’s session helped oil the wheels for planning our Social Media campaign to keep everyone informed about how the Heritage Lottery Funded Bonsall History Trails project progresses.


“Been to a Social Media workshop a couple of years ago and have been using it ever since. It’s great to keep up to date with the latest tools and applications.” RuthBonsall History Trail's Barley Mow Social Media workshop

“My head is reeling… but I’ll have a go at blogging because I want to help share the information we uncover.” Kay

We will be keeping people informed through:

Bonsall History Trails

Bonsall History Project members meet in the King's Head in Bonsall

Bonsall History Project members meet in the King’s Head in Bonsall

Hurray! We’re one of the first groups in the UK to get an ‘All Our Stories’ Heritage Lottery Fund Grant!

This exciting project, The Bonsall History Trails and Leaflets led by the Bonsall History Project, has been given £9,300 to tell their own story and find out more about the heritage of Bonsall culminating in a series of Illustrated Trail Leaflets.