What is Ridge and Furrow?; Roman Eagle Statue, London; Cuello Archaeological Site, Belize.

What is Ridge and Furrow?

Ridge and Furrow is the name given to the remains of the strip cultivation method dating from the Medieval period.  It was used in the Open Field System. The remains of ridge and furrow can be identified by the appearance of long bumps in the ground – sort of like waves in a field!

Medieval Ridge and Furrow above Wood Stanway ©Phillip Halling.
Medieval Ridge and Furrow above Wood Stanway
©Phillip Halling.

Ridge and furrow were first identified in the post-Roman period in Britain and date up to the 17th century, but the latest known isolated date was 1901. The system was practiced throughout Great Britain, Ireland and Europe.

Long rectangular strips of field, measuring up to 20 m, were ploughed with traditional ploughs, starting in the middle and then working outwards, alternatively, on either side. This gave the middle section a raised appearance and each length ploughed threw up a ridge. The ridges varied in height depending upon the type of soil, the heavier the soil the higher the ridge. At either end of the strip an extra piece of land was available to turn the ploughs around, as they were large and difficult to maneuver. The height of some ridges can be up to 61 cm!

Ridge and Furrow Patterns © nach einer Paintshop-Eigenzeichnung von de
Ridge and Furrow Patterns
© nach einer Paintshop-Eigenzeichnung von de

Dating ridge and furrow can be tricky when found in isolated places, however, it is usually dated by its association with other features, like the known location of a deserted medieval village (DMV), associated buildings and even earthworks. As field boundaries changed over time, these can also be used to date a system, as later hedges were plated across them.

Ploughing match from The Powerhouse Museum Collection showing ploughing from the middle outwards. Public Domain
Ploughing match from The Powerhouse Museum Collection showing ploughing from the middle outwards.
Public Domain

The best time to see and identify ridge and furrow is either in the early morning or late evening when the sun is rising or setting. This throws shadows from any features within a landscape, and if they are associated with any other features, then these too will show up. Aerial photographs are another good way of identifying ridge and furrow and seeing them within  their archaeological and historical context.

References

  • Aston. M. 2002. Interpreting the Landscape: Landscape Archaeology and Local History. Oxon: Routledge.
  • Baker. A. R. H. 1973. Studies of Field Systems in the British Isles. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Beresford. M. W., & St. Joseph. J. K. S. 1979. Medieval England: An Aerial Survey. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Ridge and Furrow Patterns – “Ridge and furrow-en” by nach einer Paintshop-Eigenzeichnung von de:User:Botaurus, basierend auf einer Zeichnung aus: H. Küster: Geschichte der Landschaft in Mitteleuropa. C. H. Beck, München 1997, ISBN 3406453570. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Ridge_and_furrow-en.svg#/media/File:Ridge_and_furrow-en.svg.
  • Ridge and Furrow at Grendon Northamptonshire – “Ridge&Furrow” by Brookie at the English language Wikipedia. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Ridge%26Furrow.JPG#/media/File:Ridge%26Furrow.JPG

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Archaeology Wow!! –  Roman Eagle Statue, London

In 2013 archaeologists from the Museum of London, working on a building site uncovered the finest example, to date, of a carved Roman eagle statue.

Imperial Eagle - Museum of London © lostcityoflondon.co.uk
Imperial Eagle – Museum of London
© lostcityoflondon.co.uk

Located close to the Tower of London, the eagle statue is beleived to have been from part of a tomb of an important Roman citizen dating from the 1st-2nd century.

Cleaning the Statue © news.nationalpost.com
Cleaning the Statue
© news.nationalpost.com

The statue, carved into Cotswold limestone, stands around 2 foot tall and represents an eagle with a snake, or serpent, in its beak. The image is beleived to depict the struggle between good and evil, and was a common theme in Roman art and architecture.

Due to the amazing freshness of the design and lack of wear and decay it is believed that the statue sat within an alcove at the tomb.

What an incredible find and just goes to show you never know what may turn up in an amazing city like London, whose history of human habitation goes back thousands of years!

References

 

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Archaeological Site Guide – Cuello Archaeological Site, Belize

Cuello is a Mayan archaeological site located in Belize, South America.

The site dates from 2600 – 1200 BC which places it during the Middle Pre-Classic phase and is believed to have been an early Mayan ceremonial center.

The site was first uncovered in 1974, and then

  • 1974 – The site was registered as an archaeological site
  • 1975 – Excavated; samples taken for 14C dating (Radiocardbon Dating); mapped.
  • 1976 – Excavated by Norman Hammond
  • 1978-1980 – Excavated by Norman Hammond
  • 1987 – North Square Plaza excavated

The excavations have revealed a lot more of the site and also lead to a better understanding about it. There were two main plazas, each with its own pyramid, civic buildings and a palace. These were mostly destroyed by fire and then demolished – the reasons are still being discussed.

Cuello © vma.uoregon.edu
Cuello
© vma.uoregon.edu

Houses of the everyday people were situated on three sides around the plazas, the north, south and west sides. Some of the buildings had steam baths, and there is evidence of clay and white wash on some of the house walls.

Two mass graves have been identified and one is believed to be of the warriors of the site. This conclusion was reached after analysis of the bones showed that many had healed fractures, thought to be war wounds.

A single burial which was also uncovered is thought to be of one of the elite of Cuello, possibly a Middle Classic Ruler. The grave goods included ceramics, ornaments made out of deer bone, a mat, and the upper portion of a human skull that had been made into a plaque.

Plan of Cuello from Excavations © http://ambergriscaye.com/pages/mayan/mayasites.html
Plan of Cuello from Excavations
© http://ambergriscaye.com/pages/mayan/mayasites.html

Other finds from the site include Xe Ceramics from the Pasion River area and dated to the Early Pre-Classic and Classic Periods; and lithics made mainly from chert and chalcedony, also some obsidian tools. Remians of deer, turtles and dog were found, beleived to have consisted of part of their diet, as well as maize.

This is a great site which still has lots of questions that need answering – make sure you get along if you are in that part of the world!

References

  • Hammond. N. 1991. Cuello: An Early Maya Community in Belize. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Hammond. N., Bauera. J., & Hay. S. 2000.  Preclassic Maya architectural ritual at Cuello, Belize. Antiquity, Volume 74, Issue 284 (June 2000) pp 265-266.

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Great Books to Read…….

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Great Web Pages to Look At…….

 

Activity – word-search-15 May 2015-docx

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