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Earsh (noun) (Old English: ersc) was used in South and West England to describe a stubble field in which a grain crop – wheat, barley or rye - had been harvested, leaving short stubble or short stalks.[1][2] It is frequently pronounced "ash". It is written also as arrish, arish, or ersh. The field is prepared for seeding by plowing the stubble into the ground, or burning.


The word as a description for a stubble field is found in medieval tithe maps and their apportionments,[3] and is Saxon in origin.

Place names such as Earsham, Winnersh and Wonersh derive from their situation in an earsh field.[4] Hazlehurst means earsh (arable) land overgrown with Hazel.[5]

Noah Webster describes earsh as a plowed (sic) field linking it to arrish, but also to eadish which is described as latter pasture of grass that comes after mowing or reaping, called also eargrass, earsh, and etch.[6]

Literary references[edit]

"Fires oft are good on barren earshes made,

With crackling flames to burn the stubble blade" Thomas May 1628[7]


  1. ^ History and Antiquities of Horsham, Dorothea E Hurst, Farncombe & Co., Lewes, 1889
  2. ^ Dictionary of the Sussex Dialect, W D Parish, 2nd Ed, 1975, p. 39
  3. ^ A Glossary of the Provincialisms in Use in the County of Sussex, William Durrant Cooper, 2nd ed. (1853), p. 43
  4. ^ History of Wonersh, Wonersh History Society
  5. ^ Medieval Clearances in The East Sussex Weald, P F Brandon pp. 135-153
  6. ^ Webster’s 1828 Dictionary
  7. ^ Translation of Georgics by Virgil, Thomas May, 1628

External links[edit]

  • [1] A Dictionary of The Sussex Dialect on-line