The Open Field System
Where was the open field system used?
--In 1700, 50% of British land was using the open field system.
--Most of these areas were in Eastern England and the midlands.
--In these areas arable farming was common and so was the open field system.
What did the open field system look like?
--The most common form of open field system was where villages had three big fields, with the village located in the center.
--Each field could be miles across and each villager would have strips of land in each field so that each would have a share of good and bad land.
--Each field was planted with a different crop. There was no set pattern, but one field would have wheat, the other barley.
--The third field lay fallow. The field would not be planted and the animals manure would fertilize it.
--This would rotate each year.
--Because villagers had common rights and worked and lived close together, this system of farming required a great deal of cooperation and to many people it appeared to be inefficient. However the system had its advantages especially for villagers.
--Surrounding the open field system was the common land.
--All the villagers had the right to make use of it.
--Most villages would have cattle and sheep which could graze.
--It could also be also used for collecting building material and fuel.
--The OFS created a community.
--Villagers lived in the centre of the OFS because they walked to all parts of the fields.
--This meant that they saw and helped each other regularly. A village might own an ox team in common and might work together at planting.