Keys to the Past

Glossary

Ridge and furrow

The remains of ridge and furrow can be seen across many areas of Northumberland and Durham. It results from a method of cultivation that was used throughout the medieval (1066-1540) period and later. It is commonly identified by the broad reverse s-shaped undulations that were created by ox drawn plough, cutting and turning the soil over. The ox team needed plenty of space to turn at the end of each furrow because, by ploughing in a slight curve, the plough could start to turn before the furrow had been completed, this enabled it to be turned and brought back around into the curve of the preceding ridge.

Post-medieval (1540-1901) ridge and furrow was created by steam driven plough. The steam driven plough did not require so much space to turn, so it has narrower and straighter ridges and furrows.

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