EBK Activity Sheets

 


Farming
What Everybody did in Anglo-Saxon England

Ploughing (from an Anglo-Saxon manuscript) -  Nash Ford Publishing
  • Almost all Anglo-Saxons were farmers.
  • They spent most of their time working on the land, growing food and looking after animals.
  • They mostly grew einkorn (a type of wheat), rye, barley, oats, peas and beans.
  • They used lots of different wooden tools, like hoes, rakes, spades, billhooks and forks.
  • Some of the hardest work was done when ploughing the fields (see picture above), before sowing the seeds. This a usually done with a piece of equipment called a 'plough'. Attached to a wooden frame is a metal blade which is pulled through the soil by animals. This:
    • digs a 'furrow' (a line in the soil to plant seeds in)
    • turns over the soil, bringing the best soil to the top
    • buries weeds and the remains of the last crop so they can rot and fertilize it
    • aerates the soil, making pockets to hold water better
  • Saxons used a simple form of plough called an 'ard' or 'scratch plough'. This dug a furrow, but did not turn over the soil and do all the good things to it. In the 10th century, the plough was invented.
  • Saxons also farmed animals: mostly cows, sheep and pigs, but they also kept goats, geese and chickens.
  • They used them for meat, milk, cheese, butter, eggs, wool, leather, tallow (for making candles), bone & horn, cooking fat and feathers. Cattle and horses were used for transport. Donkeys were rare. Oxen were most important for pulling the plough or ard.
  • Saxon animals were small: cows about 1.0-1.3m high and sheep about 50-70cm high. Pigs were dark and hairy with pointy ears.

Harvest Time (from an Anglo-Saxon manuscript) -  Nash Ford Publishing

 

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