Medieval Tour

Strip farming

Some of the land around Willen village homesteads had been enclosed as pasture for sheep, and cattle were grazed on the lush water meadows but, the existence of extensive 'ridge and furrow' field systems and archaeological evidence shows that in 1520 most of the land was used for growing crops.
The modern remnants of a ridge and furrow field system still existing in Willen.
Peasants did all the farm work for the Lord of the Manor, but were allotted a few strips of land for their own use. The strips were dotted about in each field so that good and bad soil was shared out equally. The land was ploughed in long strips because the ploughs were difficult to turn.
The ridges and furrows formed because, over the years, ploughing and hoeing caused the soil to be drawn up into ridges on which crops were grown.
Drawing of medieval ploughing of strips by Sheila Sancha, courtesy of MK Parks Trust