The ability to recognize the traces of ancient cultivation is essential to all students of earthworks and field-workers. The scope of our study is being widened, so that we are interested not merely in fortifications but in any kind of interference with the surface soil resulting from man’s activities in the past. It would be purely an arbitrary distinction to be interested in a hill-fort and not in the surface traces of an agricultural village of the same date, and these same surface traces consist very largely in lynchets, or cultivation terraces, the presence of which is often the sole clue to the site of the settlement.
It is a matter of observation that agricultural processes at different periods may leave quite distinct and separate kinds of traces on the ground. This depends on the kind of plough used, and on different habits with regard to the shape, size, and outlay of the fields. The one feature that is common to most ancient fields is the tendency to form terraces on sloping ground, due to the way in which the soil creeps downhill under the influence of ploughing and rain-wash, forming an accumulation along the lower edges of the plot.
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