Anglo-Saxon Farming: Facts About Agriculture

Here are some facts about Anglo-Saxon farms and agriculture.

  • Anglo-Saxon farming was widespread throughout Britain, and almost everybody worked on a farm. They raised chickens, goats, sheep, pigs and cows and grew a range of crops and vegetables.

  • Most Anglo-Saxon farms and villages were built close to a source of fresh water. They were usually surrounded by a high wooden fence designed to keep the farm animals safe from attacks by wolves and bears.
  • As well as raising animals for their meat, milk and eggs, the Saxons also used animals for other products important for daily living. These included wool and leather, cooking fat, and tallow for making candles.
  • Meat didn’t feature all that heavily in a Anglo-Saxon diet. Rich people ate more meat than poor people. Some poor Anglo-Saxons ate pork, bacon and chicken from the animals they raised on their farm, but they seldom could afford red meat.

Anglo-Saxon Farming

  • Early Anglo-Saxon farmers used a primitive type of plough. It dug furrows using a metal blade pulled by up to 8 oxen.
  • Cabbages, peas, parsnips and carrots were common vegetables in Anglo-Saxon Britain, and fields were divided into long strips. Blackberries, apples and raspberries were the most common fruits of the time.
  • Saxon animals were smaller than they are today, and did not provide as much meat. Sheep were only about 70 cm high, and cows were just over a metre in height.

Anglo-Saxon Farmers

  • Many Anglo-Saxon farms had large stones, used for grinding flour. The flour was used to make bread, baked on heated stones.
  • The Saxons also caught fish with fishing rods and nets, and traded for dried fish from Scandinavia.

What next? Learn about Anglo-Saxon food, or check out our Anglo-Saxon resources page.

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