Norwegian harrows – a legacy on some farms in the mid twentieth century

A really effective new soil pulveriser was introduced into Scotland in the early 1840s. This was the Norwegian harrow. Its function was to reduce large clods into very small ones by means of a number of lines of rays or tines, leaving the land “perfectly light and lose, whilst the clod-crushing roller gives to it firmness and consistence.”

This implement, on an “entirely novel construction”, was introduced by George Edward Frere, FRS, of Edinburgh, from Norway. He had it constructed, with some changes, by Richard Stratton, Bristol. He entered it for the Royal Agricultural Society Meeting at Shrewsbury in 1845 where the judges awarded to him a premium of 10L for his harrow. By 1858 Norwegian harrows were being made by a number of Scottish implement and machine makers. In that year they included James Kirkwood, Tranent, who sold one at £8 10s, and Peter McGregor & Son, Keith, at £8 15s. Kirkwood became a renowned maker of these harrows, winning a number of premiums for them from the Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland.

By 1864 the number of makers of these harrows had increased. They also included: John Barrowman & Co., Saline, Fife, David Young, Hassington, Coldstream, Robert Peddie & Co., 132 George Street, Edinburgh, William Kirkwood, Duddingston Mills, Edinburgh, and Kemp, Murray & Nicholson, Stirling. The one made by that latter maker was described as a “Norwegian harrow, or clod crusher”.

These harrows were still being made into the 1880s. Makers continued to include William Elder, Tweedsmouth Implement Works, Berwick on Tweed, and Kemp & Nicholson, Stirling. After that date there are few references to these harrows.

A number of sets of Norwegian harrows continued to be found at displenishing sales in the mid twentieth century. They appear to have lasted longest in areas such as East Lothian and Perthshire, though their presence at sales does not meant that they were continuing to be used until that late dates.

The farms were leading ones, with large acreages, where potatoes and other root crops were grown. They also had an extensive range of implements and machines, including leading types and makes.

The farms that had Norwegian harrows at their displenishing sales included:

West Fenton, East Lothian (surplus to requirements) (from The Scotsman, 25 January 1939)

6 box carts, 2 long carts, 2 cart frames, “Massey Harris” binder, double driller and manure sower, turnip sowing machine, “Hoosier” grain drill, 3 “Ransome” I.R.D.CV.P 4 M” ploughs, 2 sowing ploughs, 4 drill ploughs, 7 drill grubbers, 2 “Hunter” hoes, “Ransome” planet drill cultivator, “Martin” cultivator, barley brake, 5 sets English harrows, 2 sets spring toothed harrows, Parmitter harrows, 2 Norwegian harrows, heavy “Cambridge” roller, plain roller, “Wallave” mower, horse rake, hay collector, sheep turnip cutter, chaff cutter for power, cake breaker, 2 pumps, 3 iron stack stance &c Also 5 sets cart and plough harness.

Tofthill, Glencarse (from Dundee courier, 7 November 1939)

Implements-6 coup carts (2 rubber tyre), 6 corn carts, cattle float, 2 hay bogies, water cart, horse fork, 2 Massey Harris binders, 1 McCormick binder and tractor plough (power drive), 1 mower, 2 hors e rakes, Hoosier driller, McCormick driller, double driller, International manure distributor, Jack manure distributor, Newlands cultivator, 2 turnip barrows, grass seed machine, Cambridge roller, Wallace potato digger, Ransome potato digger, Camno sheep turnip cutter and engine, International tractor, tractor bogey, set 4 tractor harrows, and trees, tractor discer, 2 scarifiers, hay collector, 3 drill grubbers, 3 Hunter hoes, chain harrows, 4 set iron harrows, 2 drag harrows, set circular harrows, Norwegian harrows, 4 horse grubber, 3 ploughs, Oliver plough, 4 furring up ploughs, two bar roller, three bar roller, shafted roller, 2 steelyard and weights, turnip slicers, four wheel barrow, hash barrow, barn trolley, cake breaker, 2 blocks and tackle, 8 cattle troughs, 16 sheep turnip troughs, 35 sheep feeding troughs, sheep feed bin, sheep haik, 2 corn bins, 17 sheep nets, 150 net stakes, 280 potato boxes, 2 saw benches and saws, blacksmith’s forge, iron cutting machine, bench and tools, 30 gallon paraffin tank, oil cabinet, steel barrel, slipe on wheels, barn fanners, cart jack, iron and wooden stathels, cattle bands, sheep dipper, 3 henhouses, hen coops, Acto mower and garden tools, barn, byre, and stable utensils including 4 sets cart and plough harness, odd harness &c. Also a quantity of kitchen furniture and dairy utensils.

Byres, Longniddry (from The Scotsman 1939)

Farm implements – 7 coup carts on wheels, 5 long carts on wheels, 3 long cart bodies, spring van, governess car, 4 “Ransome” ploughs, 2 “Ransome” double furrow ploughs, “Ransome” reversable plough, 3 drill ploughs, rig marker, 6 drill grubbers, 2 “Hunter” hoes, “Finlayson” grubber, 2 barley brakes, 4 sets English harrows, Norwegian harrow, 2 sets drill harrows, set “Parmitter” harrows, 3 metal rollers, Cambridge roller, Cambridge drill roller, 1 drill scarifier, double driller and manure sower, manure distributor, turnip seed sowing machine, grass seed sowing machine, 3 “Massey Harris” binders, 2 reapers, 2 hay collectors, 2 horse rakes, tumbling rake, horse hay fork, triangle rick lifter, “Blackstone” swathe turner, charlock sprayer, stack props, “Eclipse” potato sorter, 200 potato boxes, firetray troughs, set barn weights, cart weighbridge with cattle cage, 2 sets potato weights, set barn fanners, 10 iron stack stathels (16 feet), wheelbarrow, garden roller, garden seat, 2 lawn mowers, tennis posts, 100 egg “Heatson” incubator, 100 egg “ironclaad” incubator, 200 chick “Sawyer” rearer, 4 “Pioneer” hovers, 9 folding houses, 4 chicken runs, 12 hen coops, poultry feeders, scrap iron, graips, forks, spades, shovels, hoes, and other small barn and stable utensils.Also portable “Clayton & Shuttleworth” threshing mill, with “Hornsby” bunder, “Ruston” power hay baler, “Sanderson” tractor, “Martin” tractor cultivator, petrol turnip cutter and a quantity of household furniture.

Over Hailes, Haddington, sale on 25 November 1950 (from The Scotsman, 15 November 1950)

Farm implements- 9 short carts on wheels, 3 long carts on wheels, 4 “Massey Harris” binders (2 with tractor hitch), 3 “Wallace” reapers, 2 “Sherriff” grain drills (one with tractor hitch), ‘Sherriff” grass seed barrow, ‘Sherriff” three drill manure sower, “Sherriff” turnip seed sowing machine, “Wallace” double driller and manure sower, “Massey Harris” manure sower, “Ideal” manure sower, “Ballach” drill scarifier, 2 metal rollers, 3 drill rollers Cambridge heavy roller, 2 horse rakes, 2 hay bogies, horse hay fork, hay collector, 4 “Ransome” ploughs, 4 double moulded ploughs, 3 heavy drill grubbers, “Newlands” cultivator, “Planet junior” cultivator, 2 “Hunter” hoes, “openesl” hoe, 4 sets English harrows, 2 sets saddle harrows, set Parmitter harrows, set grass seed harrows (18 feet), Norwegian harrow, 2 “Blackstone” potato diggers (one with tractor hitch), “Cooch” potato dresser with 1 ½ hp “Petter” engine, “Ness” potato dresser, sack lifter, wheelbarrow, 2 sack barrows, straw barrow, 2 sack steelyards and weights, set barn fanners, ladders, steel stack bosses, sheep wire nets, sheep net stobs, 2 sheep turnip cutters, cattle turnip slicer, 15 sheep turnip boxes, sheep cake boxes, galvanised cake bins, flakes, 2 sheep hay hecks on wheels, wire potato baskets, paraffin tanks, water troughs, endless chain, vice, anvil, henhouse, 2 chicken brooders, graips, forks, shovels, hoes, scythes, and other small barn and stable utensils &c. Tractors and tractor implements , 2 “Fordson” tractors (one with rubbers), “International H” tractor on rubbers, “Dechmont” trailer, 2 “International” ploughs (2 and 3 furrow), “Ransome Dauntless’ cultivator, “Massey Harris” disc harrows, set spring toothed harrows, “Denny” roller, 2 spare rear rubber tyres. Also 3 sets cart and plough harness, 3 stacks ryegrass hay.

The set of Norwegian harrows was photographed at the Fife Vintage Machinery rally, June 2014.