Harkness Drill Plough

Contributed by Maggie Gordon

Harkness Drill Plough

This horse drill plough was made in Ruthwell, near Annan, at the Harkness family smiddy. It was bought, complete with its rigg marker, in 1991 from Swordwellrigg farm near Ruthwell for £8, where it had been used in the potato fields since new. It has been used for drilling up potatoes on our farm every year since.

Half a mile from the field where this photo was taken, the farm borders Milton Loch out of which a fragment of an early ard was taken. This blackened piece of wood, evidence of crannog dwellings and an iron age ring fort are testament to the fact that working the land, crucial for human survival, was prevalent in South West Scotland thousands of years ago. The ard fragment is now in the National Museum of Scotland.

What is amazing is that the core technologies used to harness domesticated animals in order to till the soil for crops remains recognisable and largely unchanged over the intervening millennia. The spare, functional elegance of the drill plough as it parts the soil acting as a tangible connection to the past. A physical reminder that human survival remains as dependant as ever upon the consistant human effort neccessary for sustainable food production.

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The Smiddy, Ruthwell, nr Annan

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