Getting to grips with the old way of bringing in the sheaves
Chiltern Open Air Museum
standing position, removing the need to stoop as you would with a shorter sickle. Later versions included a cradle to catch grain, allowing other crops such as wheat could also be cut with a scythe.
Scythe-men kept their right arms straight, swinging the scythe towards their left-hand side.
Sometimes known as mowers, they worked in small teams, with one man starting at the front and the others following behind and slightly to the right at a safe distance. They maintained a constant pace and steady rhythm, each cutting up to an acre a day. Women and children followed, raking and turning the cut grass so it could dry.
This paint-spattered scythe, tied with dark blue cloth, belonged to Thomas George Hale (1910-2013). He worked for London Transport, maintaining the track. In summer, he used this scythe to cut the grass along the Metropolitan line.
Since the 15th century, scythes have appeared in images of the Grim Reaper – a skeletal figure in a black cloak and hood. This stems from the notion of death cutting down humans to harvest their souls, so scythes are now more frequently seen during Halloween than at harvest time.
For more information about this year’s Halloween Spectacular, visit www.coam. org.uk.
Chalfont St Giles, HP8 4AB www.coam.org.uk 01494 871 117