Talk:Hide (unit)

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I have replaced the former text which was unreferenced and seemed outdated. The definition quoted was not a definition of a hide. Waysider1925 (talk) 16:07, 2 August 2008 (UTC)

I like the new edit. I've dived in and done some tidying, but I'm sure there's more work to do. For example, 3,200 hides for Northants. rings a bell, but also I seem to remember that the Northants. hidage changed drastically over time, as hidages often did of course - by which I simply mean, yes, that's already suggested in the new edit - but consequently a citation and date is needed for that, and for the Staffs. assessment. Once those are found, I think there'd be room for some explanation. Cyril Hart wrote a paper on the 'Hidation of Northamptonshire', published in 1970, and the 'Northamptonshire Survey' (post-Norman Conquest, but pre-Domesday Book) is published and discussed in vol.2 of the Northants. VCH. But, while Hart can be a bit flaky at times, that VCH piece on Northants. was published in 1906. Also, though the previous "definition" was indeed nothing of the sort, it, and some of the subsequent information, could usefully be restored. The quotation from King Athelstan's laws is illustrative of broader use of the hide, and of the so-called "5 hide unit"; and some of the subsequent details which have now been lost from the article are of similar interest. For example tithings are relevant, though probably the simplest of mentions, plus a wikilink, would be sufficient here. Cheers. Nortonius (talk) 10:34, 3 August 2008 (UTC)

Thanks. I have restored 'Northern' before Danelaw because Darby p.10 makes it clear that only the Northern part used carucates; hides were used in the Southern Danelaw. I have restored 'County' in the 3rd para because Stenton pp.644-6 spoke of Counties. The examples of Northants and Staffs came from the same source. Actually he gave 4 examples but I thought 2 were sufficient for the present purpose. I have also restored 'not calculated from below' because I think it makes an important point; many people including the author of the original article think that a hide was a certain area of land, in which case the total of hides in a county would have to be calculated from below. Darby p.10 wrote 'not built up from below'. I thought that 'calculated' made my point as well and I did not want to just copy the source. I have restored my sentence in the last para about Domesday Book. The information was collected in 1086 but the book was not completed until some time later. I do not think the exact date is known. I have a couple of other points but will have to come back to them later.Waysider1925 (talk) 17:52, 3 August 2008 (UTC)

All good stuff. But, specifically regarding your above concerns, firstly I think what I didn't like about "Northern Danelaw" was really the capitalisation of "northern", as it's a geographical descriptive here, not the name of an area, like for example the "East Midlands" (see e.g. Stenton's use of "northern Danelaw", "southern Danelaw", p. 645). Then, having mentioned that a different system was used in the Danelaw, I supposed that it's the business of the Danelaw article (or indeed the carucate article) to go into that sort of detail, as the present article is about the hide, not the Danelaw carucate. But, I can see that it could be pointed out here that the carucate wasn't used in all of the Danelaw - just, use the lower case "n" instead of the capital "N".
Next in order, though you don't mention it, is my removal of initial capitals in the quotations from Stenton and Bailey: this is normal practice when fitting a quotation into the sense of a sentence, I suppose simply because it makes the sentence easier to read; though equally I suppose it simply depends on the style which is being followed, so I don't have a problem with you reverting that.
About "county", that certainly shouldn't be capitalised; but the central point here is that hidation did not begin with, and wasn't limited to, counties, which is why I added a reference to the Tribal Hidage and the Burghal Hidage: a number of the hidated counties as we know them - counties of the type to which Stenton refers - did not yet exist as such at the time of the Tribal Hidage in particular, which, as its name indicates, treats with tribal hidages, not "county" hidages. So it's not a good idea to tie hides exclusively to counties, and I don't think it's even what Stenton had in mind, though he's not very clear about it, for example when he writes of counties in "English Mercia" (p. 646): he would have been very well aware that such a description had no meaning before the late 9th century, and the creation of the Danelaw; and the Hwinca, the Ciltern, the North and South Gyrwe, and a number of other groupings listed in the Tribal Hidage never existed as "counties", so far as we know. For example, the Hwinca (or "Hwicce") had their own kings, though later they had ealdormen, but in any case they did not form a county that we would recognise; and, judging by Bede, the South Gyrwe had their own royalty too. But at least we know where they were: we can't even say that for all of the groupings listed. So, "given area" really is more appropriate: the Tribal Hidage isn't interested in counties as such, and that document long pre-dates the formation of counties as we know them, let alone Domesday Book.
The point about "not calculated from below" is that the sentence already rules it out, so really it's redundant; but, rather than delete it entirely, I moved it to the ref, with an illustrative example - which is about all the attention that the idea requires here, I think, unless you want the main text to start discussing the evidence for "top down" vs. "bottom up".
Regarding the last sentence, about Domesday Book, it wasn't the date that concerned me, or that I changed. Rather, it was the statement that 'hides (or a similar measure)' were used 'throughout England': I think that, by this point in the article, the reader needs either to be reminded what is meant by '(or a similar measure)', or, better still, should only be reminded of where hides were used. Maybe a better description than "southern England" can be found, but I think it's an important point of clarification - "throughout England" won't do, I think it's too emphatic, even with the bracketed qualification.
Lastly, about the ref to 3,200 hides for Northants., and 500 hides for Staffs., I've found the source for that now, via Stenton, as he cites its ultimate source, in the 'early 11th century list generally called the "County Hidage"'. That's all the information that needs to be supplied to remove the Fact tag, I think - the point being, the 'early 11th century' is a snapshot of hidage assessment, and the figures weren't static throughout the use of the hide system, as is indicated in the article.
Hopefully you'll see what I mean about all of that, and you'll let me know what you think. Obviously, from what I've said, I think my alterations were all pretty valid, though I'm not insisting on all of them, and equally I'm open to correction, as anyone should be. Cheers. Nortonius (talk) 20:02, 3 August 2008 (UTC)
It's been five days now, but there's been no further comment. Consequently I'll now do a little editing, including some simple reversions, per the discussion above. Nortonius (talk) 13:31, 8 August 2008 (UTC)

Sorry to have appeared to neglect your comments. Not so, but I have been tied up with other things and I wanted to find time to re-read parts of Stenton. I follow what you are saying and will come back as soon as possible.Waysider1925 (talk) 17:07, 8 August 2008 (UTC) Still not quite finished and now away on the Danube till beginning of September when I will resume. Waysider1925 (talk) 17:57, 20 August 2008 (UTC)

No problem! By the way, I support the removal of that "Farm Derived Units" thing, it struck me as very inappropriate here, at least in the form in which it was presented. Cheers. Nortonius (talk) 21:41, 20 August 2008 (UTC)

Isle of Wight[edit]

My understanding is that a hide represents the area of land required to support a family. This has given rise to the myth amongst Christians that when Caedwalla gave a quarter of the Isle of Wight to the Church he gave 300 families to be converted, whereas the sense of Bede's account is that he gave their land, having killed them first. The Isle of Wight is today 147 square miles, though some has been reclaimed and some eroded. The hidage quoted by Bede was 12,000 hides or families. The area would therefore depend upon the fertility of the ground, whether it contained a fishery and of course the size of the putative family.(147 divided by 1200 is 0.1225)I understand that generally it was the equivalent of 2 oxteams ploughing per day.--Streona (talk) 09:22, 25 August 2008 (UTC)

I am sorry, Nortonius, to have been so long coming back to this. I have been very busy. However I am now ready to make some further alterations, mostly developed from your comments. I will put in the amendments now and add my comments here later. Waysider1925 (talk) 12:01, 23 October 2008 (UTC)
References also need to be added. Waysider1925 (talk) 12:18, 23 October 2008 (UTC)

I will now try to deal with the various points you made way back in August. No objection to the small letters for northern etc. I prefer a quotation to start with a capital when it is the start of a sentence and had a capital in the original.

I quite agree that the original version did not make it sufficiently clear that it related to the eleventh century and that there should be mention of the early hidages. However I thought that your footnote was not sufficient, as it would mean very little to a reader with no prior knowledge of the subject. I thought it best to deal with these early documents in the main text - not full accounts, as they can be found elsewhere, but enough to show why they are relevant to an article about the Hide and to enable the reader to decide whether he wants to find out more. I hope you will think the new paras do this.

Regarding Domesday Book I feel it is necessary to make it clear that this gives the assessments for estates throughout the whole area covered by the survey (admittedly not quite the whole country) and therefore to mention carucates & sulungs as well as hides.

I have changed the description of a sulung, because I think it is wrong to suggest that it always represented exactly 2 hides. Stenton certainly did not think this. As I understand it, there was an exchange of land in two different counties and the agreement for this stipulated that a sulung was to be taken as equivalent to two hides, but this seesm to have been an 'ad hoc' agreement referring to two particular parcels of land and with different owners or different land the agreement might well have been different. In origin they were quite different and hardly comparable, a hide being a peasant holding and a sulung the area that so many oxen could plough.

You may think the final paragraph only repeats what has already been said, but I felt it was useful to sum up in this way, as many people referring to the article will come to it expoecting to be told that a hide was a given area of land.Waysider1925 (talk) 16:11, 24 October 2008 (UTC)

Article re-arranged & amended July 2010[edit]

I have come back to this article which was originally drafted by me but has subsequently been altered. Some of the alterations I can accept and others I am neutral about, but some I do not feel improve the article at all. In particular the headings broke the article up in an illogical way and some, which should only be minor headings, were given major status, which made the article hard to follow.

I have been looking for a suitable reference explaining the origin of the word and have now found one and added a new section to deal with this and I have rearranged the whole article in a way which, I hope, will make it easier to understand.

I think the choice of categories is wrong and wll look into this.

I hope it can now be re-assessed or would welcome suggestions for improvement.

Waysider1925 (talk) 17:04, 28 July 2010 (UTC)

Re-Asessment invited[edit]

I have deleted the C-class assessments as the article has been considerably altered and (I think) improved since this assessmennt was made. I hope that it can be re-assessed

Waysider1925 (talk) 18:24, 15 December 2010 (UTC)

I have reinstated a C-class (Wikiproject Measurement). Missing items include an equivalence of the hide to modern units of measure (obviously not an exact value, but something of the nature "The hide varied between X hectares in highly fertile regaions such as XXXshire to Y hectares on the hill country in YYY-shire". I would also suggest an illustration or two - a medieval picture of someone ploughing? Martinvl (talk) 17:34, 9 November 2012 (UTC)
I do not think that this is possible. Martinvi seems to be still thinking in terms of measurement in acres or hectares. The suggestion implies that 'hide' consistently represents a definite area in a certain district although it may represent another area in a different district. I do not think that this is the case, certainly in 1086.
As an example, in Buckinghamshire, the two adjoining manors of (Princes) Risborough and (Monks) Risborough were each assessed at 30 hides. Yet the former is much larger than the latter in terms of total acreage. In 1086 the former had arable land for 24 ploughs, meadow for 7 ploughs and an annual value of £47, while the latter had arable land for 14 ploughs, meadow for 6 ploughs and an annual value of only £16.
These were a royal manor and an ecclesiastical manor which may have affected the amount assessed, but other examples from the same county show how it is impossible to find any clear system of assessment, at least at the time of Domesday Book.
The Count of Mortain held both Bledlow and Wing in that county. Bledlow had land for 18 ploughs, meadow for 18 ploughs and an annual value of £22. It was assessed at 30 hides. Yet Wing, which had land for 40 ploughs (though there were only 25 there), meadow for 25 ploughs and an annual value of £31,was assessed at only 5 hides.
I do not think a picture of a medieval plough would help.

Waysider1925 (talk) 13:26, 27 February 2014 (UTC)

This derivative work depicts six historical units of land measurement: the furlong, the rod, the oxgang, the virgate, the carucate, and the acre.
Division of farm land
There is a graphic that refers to various farm units of land but does not directly refer to the hide. However, generally there were 4 virgates to one hide (although in Sussex there were eight). A virgate being equal to the amount of land two oxen can plough in a season, see definition below for more detail. Although, the size of the hide varied in size largely due to the fertility of the land, the size of the virgate was fairly standard. It is known what the modern equivalent of a virgate is, and the amount of hides in a virgate varied depending on the part of the country. As the article already states this then it should answer Martinvl's request? Wilfridselsey (talk) 20:37, 27 February 2014 (UTC)
I cannot understand this comment. If there were 4 virgates to the hide (or 8 in Sussex), as I think is well established, and the size of the hide varied, then the size of the virgate must have varied too. I do not think that in later Anglo-Saxon times the virgate was necessarily the amount of land two oxen could plough nor do I think it can be said to be known what the "modern equivalent" of a virgate is. In any case, as Dr Faith says in her book, the hide was a measure of value, not a measurement of land. I hope to add some comments below on the amendments made in February 2014 Waysider1925 (talk) 16:53, 2 June 2014 (UTC)
You are right. The hide probably never had a set geometric size and thus the virgate would vary in size too. However there seems to have been an attempt to provide some standardisation for the acreage of a hide, by the Domesday commissioners The discussion probably originates from Ordericus Vitalis who said that Ranulf Flambard tried to persuade William Rufus to reduce the number of acres in the hide from the English to Norman computation. The best estimates seem to be 120 acres for most of England, and 40 or 48 in Wessex (See John Cannon, ed., The Oxford Companion to British History, p.479) Having said that, I do not believe there is a real consensus on this by historians. Wilfridselsey (talk) 22:35, 2 June 2014 (UTC)


History of the County Palatine of Lancaster" This book was written in 1836 so long after fields began to be plowed by horses but with reference to earlier times when they were plowed by oxen.

If a bovate is 18 acres its likely factored as three six acre fields
If a virgate is 24 acres its likely that factors into either two twelve acre fields or three eight acre fields
I'd like to suggest that the difference may be whether fields are plowed with oxen or horses
Whatever the size of the field its divided into either two, three or five parts according to how its plowed.
If divided into either four or five parts a Hyde of 96 or 100 acres might be possible without a conflict in measure.
Generally measures which define property and especially land are stable but the aggregate systems vary.
When a property is plowed by an oxen two four acre fields are plowed, one for crops and one for feed for the ox
When a property is plowed by a yoke of oxen four fields are plowed, two for crops and two for feed for the oxen
When a property is plowed by a horse three fields are plowed, one for crops and one for feed for the horse one left fallow
When a property is plowed by a team of horses five fields are plowed, two for crops and two for feed for the horses, one left fallow
As properties include fields left fallow taxes and tithes rise to 20% and the bounds of fields are taxed to the centerline of walls
When a hyde is plowed by oxen two fields of 48 acres are plowed, one for crops and one for feed for the oxen the 4 H KF = 384 acres
If a hyde is 4 vigrates of 24 acres or 96 acres and 4 hydes make a knights fee that is 384 acres
up until 1593 the Roman milliare of 1000 passus or 5000 pes gave 540 acres to a myle.
If 5 hydes make a knights fee that is 480 acres and four carucates or 32 bovats of 15 acres divisible into 3 plots of 5 acres
If 8 half carucates is a knights fee of 480 acres each half carucate is 60 acres divisible sexigesimally, octally and decimally.
If a hyde is 4 vigrates of 40 acres or 160 acres and 4 hydes make a knights fee that is 640 acres
Since the time of Queen Elizabeth there have been 640 acres in a square mile
It would appear the ground under cultivation gradually increased and so then did the knights fee.
10 acres makes a fardel invokes a different system with a 40 acre virgat
When a hyde is plowed by a horse three fields of 40 acres are plowed one for crops one for feed for the horse, one left fallow = 480 :acres or with a team five fields of 30 acres are plowed two for crops, two for feed for the horses, one left fallow = 600 acres
"Quantity of a Knight's Fee.—1 MS. A certain book of the Abbot of Mamsbury A knight s sayth that
"A vigrate of Land containeth 24 acres,
"4 vigrates make a Hyde, and
"5 Hydes makes a knight's fee, the relief thereof 100sh.
"2 MS. says, that, according to antient custome,
"10 acres make a fardell,
"4 fardels makes a virgat,
"4 Virgats makes a Hyde,
"4 Hydes makes a knight's fee.
"3 MS. So that the Book of Mamesbury sayth 16 virgats makes a whole knight's

fee, and when taxed at 6s. 4d. makes the sum of 100sh. Therfor a knight's fee, according to the first, contains 480 acres, and this agrees with the third MS. If a virgate with 2d MS. be 40 acres; but if, as the first hath it, only 24 acres, it differs much from both, yet not above 484 recknd masse.

"But after some time, according to the goodness of the ground, is less, and other times of larger extent for the bairness therof.

"And ther is a respect to be had to the Lord's bounty, or parcimony, sometimes giving more sparingly, and others more profusely, as also the services imposed upon fees, sometimes according to the customes more easily, other times ex pacto graviora.

  • To the honour of knighthood.

The Various Parts of a Knight's Fee.—1. Hida or Hyde is a portion of land which is set apart for the alimony of the family, or that will yearly maintayn one plow, so that Hide is sometimes taken for a mansion, as when it is sayd in the charter of king Ethelbert, or about the year 845, that each 10th mansion should belong to the sendee of God* W. of Mamsbery sayth, that to the end of the world that the 10 Hide should be to cloath and feed the poore.

"2. Taken for a family, for what Beda cald familia, other Authors and the Saxon Interpreters call a hyde, or hydilandes.

"3. Taken for a carucat of land sufficient yearly to maintain a plow.

"The quantity of a hyde is disputable, for Gervis of Tilbery says, a Hyde in its original institution did consist of 100 acres, but by W. of Mamsbery 96 acres.f

"The Annals of Waverly, An. 1083. The king sent 5 of his Justitiaryes throughout England to inquire upon oath, how many hydes, i. e. jugera, might be sufficient in each Town yearly to maintain a plow.

"And the same Mathew Paris addes the same year, how many cartel might be sufficient for the village of one Hyde.

"Domesday book in fine Cestresliire, (Land between the Ribble and the Mersey,) Tit. Derbei Hundred.

"In the Hundred of Derbei vi. carucates make a Hyde.

"Regis Inte, cap. 24. by the name of Hydes, are known thos 12 portions which are reported to be given to the companions of Joseph of Aramathea in the territory of the monastery of Glastonbury.

"Hydare is as much as to taxe the land by Hydes.

"Hydatus is taken for land that is to be taxed by Hyde.J

"Hydage is a tribut that is gathered from each Hyde.

"And in paying of taxes the antient maner was to describe the kingdom by Hydes; and king Edelred, to oppose the Danes, caused each 320 hydes to send a ship, and each 8 to give a coat of male and Helmet.

"W. C. (William I.) received from each Hyde, A. D. 1084, 3 sh.§ W. Rufus from each Hyde 4sh.

"H. I. for marrying his daughter to the Emperor, A. D. 1110, from each Hyde 3sh.

"Carucata Terree, a carucate of land, is such a portion of land as is designed for the work of a plow, or plow land, with Math. Paris a Hyde.

"The charter says, that every tenth mansion shall be devoted to the servants of God (Famulis Dei) which is a very different thing.

t Not William of Malmesbury, but the Malmsb. MS. I Hidata(not hidatus) is land that is actually taxed, and hidanda, land to be taxed. ^ 6 solidi, or shillings.

"A carucate of land is sayd to be so much land as a plow can work in seasonable Chap. time, containing 120 acres, yet various as the ground was more easy, or harder, or U' troublesome to be tild.

"Virgata Terra.—3. Virgata Terrae, yapb land, (yard land) sc. mensura quantitas pro ratione loci diversi, in some places 20, in others 24, in others 30 acres. "4. Fer Ungate.—10 acres makes a ferlingate. "4 ferlingates makes a virgate, "4 virgates makes a hyde, "5 hydes makes a knight's fee. "Carucat. Terra?. The Abbot of Rochester demanded against Albereda de Basinburn 8 car. terra? and 2bovats of land, ut jus Ecclesia, of which each carucat of land contained 8 bovats terra mensurata. 27 H. 3. Rot. 1.

"Rob. Constable gave his Lordship of Therlesthorpe, whereof 8 carucates makes a knight's fee.

"Herbert de St. Quintin gave 3 bovats of land, whereof 48 carucates makes a knight's fee.

"H. fil. Syrvardi de Kerden gave 3 bovat of land in maritagio.

"Hi fil. Ad<s de Blackburn unde 16 bovats—sint aquales de forinseco.

"Caruagio and Carucagio, a tribut imposed upon plows. In charters of priviledges many being free from the Tributs termed quieti a carucagio, when the R doth taxe his land by carucates.

"Jugum Terree.—5. as much ground as a yoke of joyned oxen can plow in a day. It appears that at first a manor was divided into various portions sufficient for the nourishment of so many country familyes, together with the yoaks of oxen, and from thence they were cald juga, or yoaks.

"Jugatio is said to be a tribut that is payd a singulis jugis.

"Bouata Terree, or Oxgangs.—6. It is sayd to be as much ground as one oxe can till; but in an antient MS. 8 bovats of land doth make a carucate, and 8 carucates a kt's fee. 18 acres makes a bovat of land. An oxegang, as much as serves the neck of an oxe, but this must be understood of oxen joyned, or a yoak of oxen.

"Ferdella Terra.—7. Out of an old MS. is the 4t part of a virgate of land, for saying that 10 acres makes a virgate, and 4 virgates makes a hyde, and 4 hydes a kt's fee.

"Ferdendeal, or farandeal, with Cowil, is the 4t part of an acre, which we call a road, or rood. Crompton sayth Quadrans is the 4t part of a penny, and obulus the half, and the shilling contains 12 pennyes, and a pound 20 shillings, and that in the originall Quadrata, obulata, denariata, librata terra, sc. \ of an acre, I of an acre, the acre itself, solidata, 12 acres, librata 12 times 20 acres, sc. 240. (talk) 13:09, 22 October 2013 (UTC)

Amendments made in February 2014[edit]

I have read with interest Wilfridselsey's alterations and am grateful to him (or her) for bringing Dr Faith's article on the hide to my attention. However the authorities cited in her article include her own book and I have been reading this book which seems to me to make further alterations necessary. Also some of the alterations made do not seem to be justified by the article. Also some deletions and changes in order do not seem to me to be improvements. I wrote a large part of the article in its last previous form and therefore have considerable interest in the matter! I think it is a pity that Wilfridselsey's proposals were not discussed here first. The information about the geld does not seem to me to belong in the lead and I feel it is best to leave most of this out of this article. Anybody who needs information about it should look in the article on geld. I am working on some further amendments.Waysider1925 (talk) 17:17, 2 June 2014 (UTC)

I have now made a number of amendments, incorporating valuable additional information but deleting some alterations which seemed irrelevant to this article or wrong. The idea of a fixed hide of 120 acres does not seem tenable, but see the new paagraph on Acres at the end of the article.Waysider1925 (talk) 17:19, 27 June 2014 (UTC)