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Early history of farming in Upper Broughton

The geology of the parish and its influence on the first farming families to live here.

The land in Upper Broughton parish is mainly clay with occasional bands of limestone. The hilltops to the west and north are covered in glacial clays which are often sticky and heavy to work, though there are also patches of sand. This land is also the higher part of the parish and has little shelter from the cold north and east winds, it was the last part of the parish to keep some shrubby tree cover and until recently was not ploughed but used as pasture. The clay also covers the eastern and southern ends of the parish but here the land, sloping down to the Dalby Brook and its tributaries, is more sheltered; this has always been thought some of the best land in the parish.

Along the valleys of the Dalby Brook and the Fairham Brook there are bands of more productive alluvial soil though any crops planted here of course are at risk of flooding.

In the early medieval period farming was almost the only way to get food for the family. People subsisted on the produce from a small field or two near the family house, growing corn, barley, beans or cabbages and keeping a few pigs or sheep on the rough pasture land higher up the hill. The cows and sheep were important for their manure which kept the soil productive as well as for their milk and in winter their meat and skins. The houses were spread across the landscape of the parish, in sheltered spots and close to a stream or spring.

Sometime between about 850 and 1086 AD a major change in farming spread across parts of the country. Down the  east side of England, where hills and forests were fewer and the land was easier to plough, landowners began to move towards a  new way of organising farming which they thought would increase the yield they could get from the land.

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