Scything Returns to North Meadow

Scything returned to North Meadow on Saturday for probably the first time for 100 years or more. This was made possible by Cricklade Court Leet’s Heritage Lottery Fund Grant which enabled the Court to purchase part of the meadow.

Horse drawn mower introduced around 1825

Cricklade Court Leet has been involved in the management of North Meadow for at least 800 years and for most of that time the scythe would have been the main tool for haymaking. The agricultural revolution in the 19th century resulted in  the introduction of first horse drawn mowers and later equipment powered by tractors.

On Saturday 10th July we held a practical scything and meadow management course on the land purchased with the help of the Heritage Lottery. Our course started with an introduction by the Court Town Crier Eric.

Cricklade Court Leet Scything Course on North Meadow
Our base and scythe stand

We learned scything technique which, if carefully followed and practised makes the  scythe a very effective grass cutting tool. It’s a great pleasure to use and makes a very satisfying sound as it cuts through the grass. Care of the blade by peening and regular sharpening makes a considerable difference to its performance. Such a large sharp blade does require safe handling but used correctly it is probably safer than a brush cutter or strimmer.

Scything on North Meadow
The team in action cutting North Meadow Hay

Working as a team it is possible to cut a surprising area of grass. We learnt a great deal about meadow management, how to cut the hay at the best time of year to promote species diversity, the importance of removing nutrients and maximising the quality of the hay.

Richard Brown Cricklade Court Leet Scything Tutor
Richard our tutor explaining how to clean your scythe

Our Tutor Richard Brown is the Chairman of the Scything Association of Britain and Ireland. He has a long association with North Meadow through his work at Emorsgate Seeds. He is passionate about species rich meadows and has vast knowledge of the botany, ecology and management of this type of habitat. We were very fortunate to have him as our tutor. You can see him in action below, it is easy to see why he does well in scything competitions.

Overall this was a very enjoyable and useful day for everyone involved. Perhaps summed up by some of the comments on our feedback forms.

“I had a really lovely day”, Really enthusiastic and engaging tutor”, “Excellent informative and entertaining day”, “Fantastic course, great location and lovey team thank you”, “So much information. All my questions answered”, I really enjoyed the friendly informality of it”

We must thank our tutor Richard for making the day so special for us.

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