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ARATRO E COLTURE NELL'EUROPA NORDICA MEDIEVALE

Axel Steensberg
Quaderni storici
Vol. 11, No. 31 (1), STORIA DELLA CULTURA MATERIALE (GENNAIO - APRILE 1976), pp. 85-109
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/43900435
Page Count: 25
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ARATRO E COLTURE NELL'EUROPA NORDICA MEDIEVALE
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Abstract

Starting from artifacts, pictures and written sources, the ploughing implements of Scandinavia and the northern part of the continent, it can be stated that the prehistoric ard remained in general use everywhere m the area throughout the Middle Ages. The wheel-plough rapidly gained terrain in the years after the Anglo-Saxon emmigration to the British Isles. About 700 A.D. it was used in the peninsula of Jutland, and it proved its superiority in the North European lowland zone. A modification was the Turn-Wrest or Swivel Plough which never became as common in the areas treated above as it was in Belgium, England and Flandres. Another modification was the Wheel-Ard which apparently was often used on stony ground instead of the real plough. In some parts of Scandinavia's mountainous regions the spade was used instead of the ard, and in northern Sweden and Norway left-turning plough and a right-turning one without a wheel carrige were some times used alternately on steep slopes. The terms ploch or plog seem to have been introduced from Central Europe later than the Anglo-Saxon emmigration because they used their original term sulh for the heavy wheel-plough until about 1100-1200. The term plog had already penetrated into Scandinavia by the early 12th century. In Germany and the Baltic area the German term hake gradually replaced the latin uncus or aratrum. In parts of Poland, the Baltic countries, and Finland the Russian sokha with the pronged or double ard head was in common use. The field shapes produced by ploughing implements have so far been extensively studied in Germany. However, we still need through investigations such as the one published for Borup in Zealand ca. 1000-1100 A.D. Peculiarly enough the fields of Borup do not prove our previous idea as to the structure of medieval furlongs and field rotations. But from written sources we know that the three-field system was introduced into the lowland zone in the 13th century, and probably in some southern parts even before 1200. The common rotation was an infield system often supplemented by smaller areas near the villages tilled as ager restibilis and manured every year. In parts of the area the structure of the strips seems to have been flat until the introduction of a ridge and furrow system about the time of the climatic change 1200-1300 and possibly in Denmark connected with the introduction of winter rye. Such ridged fields could not have been produced without the proper plough.

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