Author Topic: How big was a medieval acre?  (Read 2884 times)

Offline brecor

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How big was a medieval acre?
« on: Friday 28 February 14 20:47 GMT (UK) »
Hi,
Have tried searching for this online, but can't figure it out! How many modern acres in the acre that was used around 1530?
Also, how big was a carcuate of land?
Thanks

Offline Little Nell

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Re: How big was a medieval acre?
« Reply #1 on: Friday 28 February 14 21:08 GMT (UK) »
A carucate is as much land as a team of 8 oxen could plough in a season.  It obviously varied according to the type of land.

The old definition of an acre is as much land as can be ploughed in one day by a team of oxen.  Generally this was 4840 sq yards and this is what we use today when speaking of acres. BUT it was more in some areas.  In Scotland it was more than 6000 sq yards, in Ireland 7840 sq yards, Westmorland 6750 sq yards.

 :-\

Nell
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Offline stanmapstone

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Re: How big was a medieval acre?
« Reply #2 on: Friday 28 February 14 21:25 GMT (UK) »
Statutory values were enacted in England by acts of Edward I., Edward III, Henry VIII and George IV., and the Weights and Measures Act 1878 now defines it as containing 4840 sq. yds.
In addition to this “statute" or " imperial acre," other "acres" are still, though rarely, used in Scotland, Ireland, Wales and certain English counties. The Scottish acre contains 6150-4 sq. yds.: the Irish acre is 7840 sq. yds.; in Wales, the land measures erw (4320 sq. yds.), slang (3240 sq. yds.) and paladr are called "acres"; the Leicestershire acre (23085 sq. yds.), Westmorland acre (6760 sq. yds.) and Cheshire acre (10,240 sq. yds.) are examples of local values.
So long as land was held in exchange for services, the number of people it could feed to provide those services was more important than its exact area. However accurate measurement became important in 1538, because beginning in that year a gigantic area of England – almost half a million acres – was suddenly put on sale for cash, when Henry VIII dissolved almost four hundred monasteries.

Stan
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Offline Koromo

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Re: How big was a medieval acre?
« Reply #3 on: Saturday 01 March 14 08:37 GMT (UK) »
Also:

carucate:  another name for the hide, a very old English unit of land area, dating from perhaps the seventh century. The hide was the amount of land that could be cultivated by a single plowman and thus the amount of land necessary to support a family. Depending on local conditions, this could be as little as 60 acres or as much as 180 acres (24-72 hectares). The hide was more or less standardized as 120 acres (48.6 hectares) after the Norman conquest of 1066. The hide continued in use throughout medieval times, but it is now obsolete.
Census information is Crown copyright from www.nationalarchives.gov.uk
____________________________________________________________

Lewis: Llanfair Kilgeddin | Abergavenny | NZ
Stallworthy: Bucks. | Samoa | NZ
Brothers: Nottingham | NZ
Darling: Dunbar | Tahiti
Keat: St Minver | NZ
Bowles: Deal | NZ
Coaney: Bucks.
Jones: Brecon


Offline stanmapstone

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Re: How big was a medieval acre?
« Reply #4 on: Saturday 01 March 14 08:42 GMT (UK) »
A virgate was a quarter of a hide, and was the standard holding of arable land in the Middle Ages. The size was variable, depending on the soil quality, it could be from 15 to 60 acres.

Stan
Census Information is Crown Copyright, from www.nationalarchives.gov.uk

Offline brecor

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Re: How big was a medieval acre?
« Reply #5 on: Saturday 01 March 14 09:29 GMT (UK) »
Thank you all very much! It all makes fascinating reading, but I still feel inclined to ask for your best estimate as to what 620 acres (in Ireland in 1530) would be in today's English 'statute' acres. The logical bit of my brain says that there must be a formula for calculating such things, but the other bit is telling me that it's not quite that simple...

Offline Koromo

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Re: How big was a medieval acre?
« Reply #6 on: Saturday 01 March 14 10:13 GMT (UK) »

If the Irish acre is 7,840 square yards, then 620 Irish acres would be 4,860,800 square yards which works out to be 1,004.30 "modern" acres.

I think!
Census information is Crown copyright from www.nationalarchives.gov.uk
____________________________________________________________

Lewis: Llanfair Kilgeddin | Abergavenny | NZ
Stallworthy: Bucks. | Samoa | NZ
Brothers: Nottingham | NZ
Darling: Dunbar | Tahiti
Keat: St Minver | NZ
Bowles: Deal | NZ
Coaney: Bucks.
Jones: Brecon

Offline Nick Carver

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Re: How big was a medieval acre?
« Reply #7 on: Saturday 01 March 14 12:16 GMT (UK) »
Dimensions of an acre are a chain by a furlong (or 22 x 220 yards) accounting for the rather odd 4840 square yards to the acre.
E Yorks - Carver, Steels, Cross, Maltby, Whiting, Moor, Laybourn
W Yorks - Wilkinson, Kershaw, Rawnsley, Shaw
Norfolk - Carver, Dowson
Cheshire - Berry, Cooper
Lincs - Berry
London/Ireland/Scotland/Lincs - Sullivan
Northumberland/Durham - Nicholson, Cuthbert, Turner, Robertson
Berks - May
Beds - Brownell

Offline stanmapstone

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Re: How big was a medieval acre?
« Reply #8 on: Saturday 01 March 14 13:03 GMT (UK) »
The rod's, or perch's, inconvenient length of 16½ feet was derived from the area of land that could be worked by one person in a day. This was reckoned to be two rods by two rods, 33ft. by 33ft. thus there were four square rods in a day work, and forty day works in an acre, and 640 acres in a square mile, all multiples of four that simplified the calculation of areas. Gunter's chain was four perches in length, 66ft. or 22 yards, divided into 100 links, and was a brilliant synthesis of land measurements based on the number four and the decimal system, as ten square chains equalled one acre.
The twenty -two yard chain of the seventeenth century British genius Edmund Gunter has imprinted its dimensions on every parcel of land in the United States, and the town planning of almost every major city in the United States (the lengths of most city blocks are multiples of it).

Stan
Census Information is Crown Copyright, from www.nationalarchives.gov.uk