Agriculture

Farming and gardening, animal husbandry, forestry

Aberdeenshire barn could give "vital clues about medieval farm living"

Excavators from Scottish Hydro Electric (SHE) Transmission are accustomed to finding historic artifacts during their work. In fact, their team includes an archaeologist. Now a recent discovery of a 14th or 15th century barn has given her something exciting to study.

First century irrigation system found in England

Archaeologists working on a development site in Cambridge, England have discovered what they believe is Great Britain's oldest irrigation system. The Roman site includes evidence of planting beds and pit wells.

Spanish medieval vineyard study opens "window to the past"

In the 10th century, Zaballa, Spain was a quiet village that cultivated vineyards on terraces. Then the rich folks arrived in the form of a manor monastery which created a "highly significant rent-seeking system," and then a "veritable factory, a specialised estate in the hands of local lords who tried to obtain the maximum profits possible." The town was abandoned in the 15th century.

Tudor Monastery Farm on BBC 2

Watchers of BBC 2 may want to catch up on the latest episodes of The Tudor Monastery Farm, where modern experts "work as ordinary farmers under the eye of a monastic landlord, learning to master the landscape away from the farm in order to supplement their income."

Re-enactor strives to survive on a 9th century farm

Pavel Sapozhnikov of Khotkovo is undertaking an experiement in history this winter by seeking to survive a tough, Russian winter "in a 9th-century environment, with no access to electricity, the Internet or other modern amenities." Dmitry Vinogradov of RIA Novosti has the story.

Flanders monks cultivated wetlands to ease overpopulation

Evidence from an archaeological excavation at Boudelo Abbey, once part of the medieval county of Flanders, Belgium, shows that the monks who lived there went to great lengths to cultivate the area's wetlands, building structures on artificially raised soil and providing new lands for occupation.

New book reveals Scotland's lost gardens

English spies in the employ of Henry VIII would never believe that their maps could lead to the re-discovery of forgotten and abandoned gardens in Scotland. Their maps, along with aerial photography, historic documents, and even poetry, were used by Marilyn Brown for her book Scotland's Lost Gardens.

"Immense volcanic eruption" may have led to death of thousands in medieval England

Archaeologists for the Museum of London recently discovered 175 mass graves dating to around 1250, 100 years before the Black Plague. What killed over 10,000 people in England may have been an immense volcanic eruption.

Anglo-Saxon woman found buried with cow

Archaeologists excavating a late 5th century CE grave in Cambridgeshire, England have come across something completely uniquie - a women buried with a cow. This is the first known burial from this period of a woman with an animal in England, and the first case of anyone being buried with a cow.

New Glastonbury Thorn vandalized

In 2010 vandals damaged the fabled Holy Thorn tree of Glastonbury, England, said to have been a cutting of the thorn first planted by Joseph of Arimathea. Now the replacement tree, planted soon after, has also been vandalized.

Wakehurst yew saw reign of Richard II

An ancient yew tree, dating to the 14th century, has been identified at Wakehurst Place in West Sussex. The tree is believed to have been part of a large landscaped garden, and was planted just after the Black Death.

Guinea pig joins the ranks of favorite medieval pets

Was there a guinea pig sitting in the cage of a 16th century classroom? A new archaeological find proves it's possible. The 3rd ever early European guinea pig skeleton has been found in Belgium. Experts believe it was buried like a pet.

Cool Craniums

Cool Craniums is a source for all sorts of furs, pelts, hides, feathers, skulls, claws, teeth, bones, and horns. Nikki started this business in 2000 because of her hobby for collecting skulls, and her passion for teaching and sharing with others.  The online store is accessible on Flikr, and stock is always changing and updated.

Wall collapse leads to archaeological opportunity at Stirling Castle

It was good news and bad news for officials at Stirling Castle in Scotland. A wall retaining late 15th century garden terraces collapsed, but the collapse now affords the opportunity to investigate remnants of gardens made for James IV.

Discovering "a way of life from an age gone by"

Longing to live the life of a British farmer during the reign of King James I? Now, while you may not be able to live it, you can certainly watch how a group of people take on the task of working a Jacobean farm. The 12-part series, Tales from the Green Valley, is available on YouTube.

Agricultural processions may have marked seasons at Stonehenge

Archaeologists continue to make new discoveries that shed light on the construction and use of Stonehenge. The latest discoveries are "evidence of two huge pits positioned on celestial alignment" marking the rising and setting of the sun.

Columbus' actions "greatest event in the history of life since the death of the dinosaurs"

How did Christopher Columbus really change history? Not by the "discovery" of the New world, but by ecological convulsion, the exchange of plants, animals and diseases between the two continents. Such is the premise of Charles C. Mann's new book 1493.

Anglo-Saxon plough found in England

Parts of a 7th century "heavy plough" have been found in Kent, England. This discovery pushes back the first known instance of heavy plowing in England by several hundred years.

Craftsmen produce giant medieval carpet made of flowers

Craftsmen in Belgium have created Tapis de Fleurs, the world’s largest carpet of flowers. Flower carpets have been made in Belgium since 1971 in order to promote Belgium's flower industry.

Monticello to host Historic Plants Symposium

On September 10, 2010, the Thomas Jefferson Visitor Center at Monticello will host the 2010 Historic Plants Symposium as part of the Heritage Harvest Festival at Monticello. The program will feature a dinner program “Come to Table,” Historic Plants in the American Kitchen" with  Rosalind Creasy.

2010 Heritage Harvest Festival at Monticello

This year's Fourth Annual Heritage Harvest Festival takes place Saturday, September 11, 2010 with a series of workshops, demonstrations, and presentations.

Iraq's 'Garden of Eden' recovers from Saddam Hussein regime

While in power, Saddam Hussein drained the vast marshes of southern Iraq, destroying the ancient way of life of the people there and removing the habitat of many wild species. Now, the land and its culture have partially recovered, thanks to the efforts of both local people and Iraqi conservationists.

The history of coffee

Do you take that morning cup of coffee for granted? Do you think coffee has always been there? Not so! According to the website of the Roast & Post Coffee Company, coffee was "not discovered until around 600 CE in the Middle East and only came into Europe in the 16th Century."

Flowers on the menu

Amy Barclay de Tolly and Peggy Trowbridge of the Home Cooking Guide website offer information on edible flowers including which of the plants are safe to eat.

Stonehenge surrounded by Stonehedge

A new study of the landscape around Stonehenge seems to suggest that Stonehenge was once surrounded by two low, concentric hedges. The media have dubbed the foliage "Stonehedge."

Winter festivals feature fire in Spain and Scotland

An article on Boston.com looks at the power of purifying fire in European myth and imagination in two festivals, Up Helly Aa and the Feast of Saint Anthony the Great. (22 large photos)

Southeastern Animal Fiber Fair

Be sure and mark your calendars for SAFF 2009:

Dig shows Irish monks strove to be "green"

Archaeologists working on a dig at the Cistercian Bective Abbey in Co Meath, Ireland believe they have evidence of the country's first environmentalists. The abbey monks, dependent on handouts from their neighbors, worked hard to become as self sufficient as possible.

High-res survey reveals Roman farming community

Recent high-resolution geophysical surveys of the Roman town of Venta Icenorum in Norfolk, England, show that the town may have included agricultural areas, a discovery that contradicts earlier theories of the town's dense population. (graphic)

Paper studies domestic animals in medieval Scotland

Dogs, cats and horses in the Scottish medieval town, a scholarly paper by Catherine Smith, looks at the presence of domesticated animals in medieval life. The paper studies recent discoveries at archaeological sites.