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Ridge & Furrow

posted 2 Dec 2013, 03:37 by Andre Hefer   [ updated 18 Dec 2013, 02:33 ]
Ridge and Furrow, Swinfen Broun brass rubbing trail

Location: The ridge and furrow can be seen on the edge of the woodland, next to the A51 western bypass. It is said to be most visible on the downward sloping land when facing towards the woodland by Leomansley brook.

by the Staffordshire Archaeological and Historical Society

Ridge and furrow in the landscape denotes an old system of agriculture whereby open or common fields were divided into strips that were worked by individuals. There were usually three large fields that belonged to a village, sometimes four, and peasants would have a number of strips in each field. One person's holdings were scattered throughout a field so as to even out the allocation of good and poor land.

A strip could contain anything from two to five adjacent ridges and sometimes as many as ten. The familiar patterns were produced over a long period of time by tillers who used a heavy mould-board plough in a particular way. By ploughing just slightly to the left of the centre line of a ridge in one direction, the sod would be tipped to the right. Coming back the other way and ploughing slightly to the right of the previous row, the sod is tipped to the left, thus over time forming a marked ridge. The furrows between ridges enable flat, low-lying ground to drain.

A ridge was roughly 220 yards long, a furlong or 'furrow long', supposedly the distance an ox team could haul a plough without pausing for breath.

The old open field system was changed by a series of Enclosure Awards whereby the land was divided up into the small fields we know today, bounded by hedges or stone walls. This process was most common between 1760 and 1820 but some enclosures took place as early as the 16th century.

#Wikipedia: Ridge and Furrow

The illustration below shows the effect of ploughing in a sequence of rectangles from the top of the ridge moving outward to the edge. Over time the distinctive ridge and furrow pattern would be apparent in the field, as can be seen in the image to the right.

Image to the right courtesy of Wikipedia. Ridge & Furrow, Cold Newton, Leicestershire. Photo: © Matt Neil. Used under
Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.

Illustration below courtesy of Wikipedia. Tilt of sods during ploughing. Used under
Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

Ridge and Furrow, Swinfen Broun brass rubbing trail