Plough Sunday is a traditional English celebration of the beginning of the agricultural year that has seen some revival over recent years. Plough Sunday celebrations usually involve bringing a ploughshare into a church with prayers for the blessing of the land. It is traditionally held on the first Sunday after Epiphany or Twelfth Night (6th January), which this year fell on Sunday 9th January 2011.
According to the tradition, work in the fields did not begin until the day after Plough Sunday: what is referred to as, wait for it, Plough Monday!
As well as a ploughshare, in rural areas it is common for local farmers to attend the service with their tractors and other machinery.
The two characters here depicted are Piers and his cousin Cuthbert, medieval ploughmen of Babbingford Magnus, Tatshire. Their old plough (plow) is pulled by two of their heifers, Colman and Drogo. The composition is based on an image from the Luttrell Psalter, an illuminated manuscript written and illustrated circa 1320 – 1340 by anonymous scribes and artists, and now housed in the British Library. It was commissioned by Sir Geoffrey Luttrell (1276-1345), a wealthy English landowner who lived at Irnham, Lincolnshire.
Happy belated Plough Sunday!