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Open fields in Scandinavia, c. 900 - c. 1850

Chapter in book
Authors Carl-Johan Gadd
Published in Peasants and their fields : the rationale of open-field agriculture, c. 700-1800 / edited by Christopher Dyer, Erik Thoen and Tom Williamson.
Pages 49-75
ISBN 978-2-503-57600-8
Publisher Brepols Publishers
Place of publication Turnhout, Belgium
Publication year 2018
Published at Department of Economy and Society, Economic History
Pages 49-75
Language en
Keywords Open-field system Scandinavia Sweden Denmark strip field agridulture field systems Field-grass farming continuous cropping short-fallow systems fallowing land consolidation consolidation of strips
Subject categories History and Archaeology, Economic History, Technology and culture


This chapter begins by looking briefly at what is known about the development of Scandinavian regular-fallow systems in the Middle Ages. It then discusses in more detail the character of field systems in Denmark and Sweden, starting with the situation in the seventeenth century, a time when the supply of source material is good in both countries. Different systems of strip subdivision are then examined, followed by a discussion of the transition from continuous cropping to the three-field system in southern Sweden, something which serves to throw important light on how subdivided fields first came into being. After a short discussion of subsequent changes in the organization of open-field systems, and the effects of different forms of landholding on their character and operation, the difficult question of the causes of strip subdivision is addressed.

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