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The Stations of the SunA History of the Ritual Year in Britain$
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Ronald Hutton

Print publication date: 1996

Print ISBN-13: 9780198205708

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198205708.001.0001

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Speeding the Plough

Speeding the Plough

Chapter:
(p.124) 11 Speeding the Plough
Source:
The Stations of the Sun
Author(s):

Ronald Hutton

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198205708.003.0011

In medieval and early modern England the ploughing season began immediately after the end of the Christmas holidays; and indeed this remained true until the widespread adoption of winter cereal crops in the twentieth century. Since the harvest, arable fields would have been left spiked with fading stubble; now the soil, wet through by the autumn and winter rains, would be turned over by ploughs dragged first by oxen, later by horses, and latest of all by tractors. It was a process that would last far into March. Medieval records contain stray references to customs associated with the opening of it. In the late thirteenth century, for example, the villagers of Carlton in Lindrick, at the northern tip of Nottinghamshire, held a plough race in the common fields on January 7. The rites of the opening of this work were becoming concentrated on the first Monday after Twelfth Night, known familiarly as ‘Plough Monday’.

Keywords:   England, ploughing season, Christmas, harvest, ploughs, customs, Carlton, Lindrick, race, Plough Monday

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