Shown in the bottom of the border on folio 21r are scenes specifically concerned with farming work. A peasant guides the ploughshare, a heavy instrument with wheels first depicted in art in eleventh-century manuscripts. His belt has a pocket for carrying small farming implements. Another peasant on the far right prunes the dead wood from vine shoots with a culter. Ploughing was a commonplace scene in the images of seasons in Antiquity on both sarcophagi and mosaics. The Golf Book maintains the classic composition of a labourer in the foreground and trees in the background, as in the images of months in late Antiquity.
This theme was to persist in the early Middle Ages in a series of images stemming from the classical tradition such as a manuscript of Rabanus Maurus’s De universo illustrated in Montecassino (Madrid, Biblioteca Nacional, ms. 52, f. 8v). The earliest images of heavy, wheeled ploughs appear in January ploughing scenes in two eleventh-century manuscripts (London, The British Library, Cott. Jul. A. vi and Cott. Tib. B. v), although they are still pulled by oxen. The earliest extant model of ploughing using a quadrangular plough with wheels pulled by a team of two horses appears in the bottom border of the Bayeux Tapestry (1077-1088), which evidences the spread of new farming techniques of Gallo-Roman origin, from northern Europe.
On the right of the border surrounding the calendar text is the sign of Aries inside a teardrop medallion beneath which one can read “ari-/es”. The zodiacal constellation is of the walking ram in profile type, with a right-left orientation.
Carlos Miranda García-Tejedor
Doctor in History