HLA Type - Medieval/Post-medieval Reverse-S-shaped Fields

Medieval/Post-medieval Reverse-S-shaped Fields

Although modern farming is fully mechanised, evidence for medieval or post-medieval open fields of ridge and furrow does survive, although often it’s only visible as cropmarks in aerial photographs. Cropmarks of curving lines (reverse-S shapes) reflect the way in which large teams of oxen ploughed open, unenclosed fields. The team had to start turning well before the end of each rig, creating a reverse-S shaped ridge of ploughed ground and an adjacent furrow. It is the furrows that may show in aerial photographs.

In certain rare instances reverse-S field shapes actually survive. They are specifically associated with this form of arable farming, dating to before agricultural improvements were introduced in the 18th or 19th centuries.

Medieval/Post-medieval Reverse-S-shaped Fields

These two adjacent reverse-S-shaped fields at Falkland in Fife are differentiated by the variation in the crops. The identification of these old reverse-S-shaped rigs is based on data in historical and current OS maps as well as aerial photographs.

HES DP049633