carucate [Latin, English]

In that part of Britain called the Danelaw, a unit of land area, the amount of land that could be kept in cultivation by a single plow, = 8 bovates. Also called a carucata. Usually translated as plough-land, but often used as a synonym for the hide. In the Domesday Book, however, a land measurement in hides is often followed by an equivalent in carucates, which has led to speculation that the Normans desired to convert the English land measurement system to carucates.

Like the hide, the carucate was not a unit of geometrical land area, but a unit of obligation for military service and taxes. Hollister hypothesizes on good evidence that, “the select-fyrd duty was assessed in the Danelaw at the standard rate of one man from a particular number of carucates, a number which was generally known at the time but is unknown to us.¹” Round² proposes that the number is 6.

In 1194, set at 100 acres.

1. C. Warren Hollister.
Anglo-Saxon Military Institutions.
Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1962.
Page 50.

2. John Horace Round.
Feudal England.
London, 1895.
Page 69.



Rex Comiti W. salutem. Praecipio tibi quod sine dilatione teneas plenum rectum N. de decem carucatis terrae in Middleton...

The King to Earl W. greeting. I command thee that without delay thou shouldest do full right to N. concerning ten plough-lands in Middleton..."

Tractatus de legibus et consuetudinibus regni Anglie.
Ranulf de Glanville (1130-1190), Book 12, chapter 3.
as quoted and translated in
Kenelm Edward Digby and William Montagu Harrison.
An Introduction to the History of the Law of Real Property. (5th edition)
Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1897.
Pages 74 and 75.


Nicholas le Archer tenet dias carucatas terræ in villa de Stoke, in com. Glouc. per serjantiam inveniendi domino Rego in exercitu Walliæ, unum himinem, cum arcu et sagittis, sumptibus suis propriis, per xl dies.

Pla. Cor. 15 Edw. I. Gloc. Blount, 57.

Nicholas le Archer holds two carucates of land in the town of Stoke, in the county of Gloucester, by the serjeanty of finding for our lord the King in his army in Wales, a man with a bow and arrows, at his own costs, for forty days.

Thomas Blount. Rev and corrected by Josiah Beckwith. Additions by Hercules Malebysse Beckwith.
Fragmenta Antiquitatis: or, Ancient Tenures of Land
London: Printed by S. Brooke, Paternoster-Row, for Messrs Butterworth and Son, etc., 1815.
Page 129.



CARUCATA. A plough-land, or as much arable ground as in one year could be tilled with one plough: which in the reign of Rich. I. was computed at sixty acres, Mon. Ang. tom. ii. p. 107. Yet another charter 9 Rich. I. allots one hundred acres to a carucate. And Fleta, temp. Edw. l. says, if land lay in three common fields, then ninescore acres to a carucate, sixty for winter tillage, sixty for spring tillage, and sixty for fallows. But if the land lay in two fields, then eightscore acres to a carucate; one half for tillage, and the other for fallow, lib. ii. cap. 72. §. 4. The measure of a carucate was different, according to time and place. In 23 Ed. III. one carucate of land in Burcester contained one hundred and twelve acres; and two carucates in Middleton were three hundred acres, ii. 103. Caruca was sometimes used for carucata; Robert de Ver confirmed to the monks of Thorney, Decimas de quinque carucis quas pater concessit in Islep Draitune et Edinton, i. iii. In Doomsday inquisition, the arable land was measured by carucates, the common pasture by hides, and the meadow by acres. In some countries the word is still preserved a carve of land, and the imposition on land carrucagium et carcagium is called carvage.

White Kennett.
[Thomas Delafield, editor.]
Parochial Antiquities Attempted in the History of Ambrosden, Burcester, and other adjacent Parts of the Counties of Oxford and Bucks. vol. 2.
Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1818.
Unpaged glossary.

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