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The Stations of the SunA History of the Ritual Year in Britain$
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Ronald Hutton

Print publication date: 1996

Print ISBN-13: 9780198205708

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198205708.001.0001

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The Stations of the Sun

Ronald Hutton

Oxford University Press

In pre-industrial society in Britain, the cereal harvest, whether of wheat, oats, barley, or rye, represented the most important and most concentrated period of labour in the entire year. Arrangements for it feature in the first surviving records to provide a detailed view of local economy, the manorial papers of the high Middle Ages. Earlier than that, nothing substantial is known. On the east midland estates of Ramsey Abbey, for example, a tenant who was obliged to bring his whole family to the reaping, excepting his wife, was rewarded with a repast at the end consisting of a loaf, ale, meat, and cheese. During the early modern period, information upon harvesting increased, and most of it is summed up in three different sets of verses, spread across the span between 1570 and 1650. The earliest is Thomas Tusser's famous rhyming treatise on farming, the first edition of which appeared in 1573.

Keywords:   Britain, harvest, labour, economy, estates, Ramsey Abbey, verses, Thomas Tusser, treatise, farming

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