Ridge and Furrow

June 10, 2008 at 21:51 | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Ridge and furrow

It’s been a busy day and I haven’t had chance to get a fresh photo, so here’s a recycled one.

I’ve mentioned before that Walney has had established settlements for a lot longer than mainland Barrow has.  Evidence for this is all over the island in the form of ridge and furrow patterns that indicate old field systems.  (Not that old – two or three hundred years maybe)  They were formed by strip farming, a kind of collective farming in which huge fields were divided into strips each to be ploughed by an ox team going up and down the strip once, turning the earth into the centre on each pass, so that the field takes on a cordoroy pattern that persists on the surface long after the land has been turned over to pasture, or other uses.  Nobody knows for certain why it was done this way, but it may have been a kind of insurance policy.  In wet summers when the furrows become waterlogged, the ridges would remain well-drained, and in hot, dry summers the ridges may dry out but the furrows would retain water, so some kind of crop was usually guaranteed.

This example is on the Furness golf course near Sandy Gap Lane.  The golf club are believed not to be very happy about it.

PS: Don’t know what went wrong with the link but I’ve kludged it.



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  1. I wonder how long the golf club have been unhappy about this. I can remember these furrows back in the 60’s when my father was a member of FGC and I used to accomapany him. There were no cries of protest in those days.

    Your post is quite an education as I had no idea what they were. When I saw a ball bobbing up and down these furrows I always thought they were a natural feature or more to the point a golfing hazard.

  2. Jeff, the problem is that once you know about ridge-and-furrow you see it everywhere!

    The furrows are, of course, a furlong (furrow-long) in length and a rod-pole-or-perch wide.

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