Medieval Farming, Ploughing

Medieval plough

Mostly men did the ploughing, because you have to have very strong arms, and women often walked behind the men, planting the seeds. Ploughing too is a communal affair. The heavy wheeled plough needed for northern soils is expensive, as are horses to pull it.

So a team of horses and plough works successive strips of an open field for different peasants. The long narrow shape of the strips reflects the difficulty of turning the team at each end.

The use of horses for ploughing. Horses are faster and have greater endurance than oxen and can be controlled by voice commands, eliminating the need for an additional man in the plough team to guide the ox or oxen with a sharp pole. Several innovations were needed to make use of horses, however: horseshoes to keep the horses' hooves from softening in the wet earth of ploughing time, the horse collar, since horses do not have well-defined shoulders like oxen, and harnessing.

The heavy, or mould-board, plough. This plough had an iron ploughshare that could cut through the earth and a mould-board that turned the sod over. The mouldboard plough that produced a deep furrow and turned the earth after it had been cut by the coulter and share. The mouldboard was the device for guiding the plough and turning the earth over.

Farming Slaves, Weeding, Ploughing, Seeds, Irrigation, Sickles, Threshing, Wheat, Barley, Millet, Oats, Rye, Olive Trees, Grapevines