Farm Tools

Moulboard Plough: A plough that produced a deep furrow and turned the earth after it had been cut by the coulter and share. The moulboard was the device for guiding the plough and turning the earth over. To get the right depth for the seed the plough has to both cut and turn the earth.

Wheeled Plough: This plough enabled the ploughing depth to be controlled. In wet weather the wheels became clogged up with mud and was therefore very difficult to use. Wheeled ploughs were mainly used on sandy soils and rarely in heavy clay areas.

Harrow: Used for breaking up the soil and covering over seeds. The harrow had between four and six wooden beams called 'bulls', into which were set iron or wooden teeth. The bulls were joined together by wooden cross beams.

Rake: Used for spreading and collecting grass during haymaking. Those farmers who could not afford a harrow used a rake.

Scythe: The long-handled scythe enabled the corn to be cut while the worker remained standing. Held with both hands the crop was reaped by a slicing action. The scythe was mainly used for cutting grass and harvesting barley and oats.

Sickle: The main tool used by medieval farmers for cutting corn. The iron blade was angled backwards from the handle to allow a smooth cutting motion. The sickle enabled the corn to be cut without too much strain on the wrist. The blade could either be saw-toothed or smooth-edged.

Flail: Two pieces of wood joined together. The handle was attached to a smaller piece called the 'striker'. The flail was used to separate the grain from the harvested sheaves.

Forks: Made of wood with two or three 'ironed' prongs. Used for ground preparation and for haymaking.

Spade: Made of wood with iron shoes to protect it from wearing out. Used for preparing the ground, especially on the croft. Also for digging ditches when draining land. Before planting seeds it is necessary to breakdown the earth. Poor farmers who could not borrow or hire a plough had to use a spade.

Axe: Used for cutting down trees and killing animals. The heel of the axe was used to stun the pig before it was bled.

Shears: A tool used to remove wool from sheep.

Winnowing Basket: A basket used to separate the corn kernels from the outer husks or chaff. The threshed corn was thrown up from the basket and the breeze (sometimes created by waving a sheet) blew the chaff from the heavier kernels.