Hide (unit)

historical unit of area

The hide was a unit of land measurement. Everywhere in Anglo-Saxon England except Kent it was the land held by a peasant and his family.[1] Originally it was the amount of land necessary to support one household. The amount of land that made up one hide would vary from one part of Britain to another. This was because the quality of soil for growing food would be different.[2] In places where the soil was very rich, a hide of land would be smaller. Where the soil was poor the hide would be larger. It was never a standard using fixed measurements.[a][1] Later in Anglo-Saxon England a hide became a unit on which to base payment of tribute or tax. The hide was also used to determine public obligations.[3] This could be defending the local castle or providing soldiers for the local militia.[b][3] Tenants paid rent based on how many hides they farmed.[3]

  1. Like an acre for example, which can be measured in feet or meters.
  2. In Anglo-Saxon England the county militia was called the fyrd.


  1. 1.0 1.1 Frank Stenton, Anglo-Saxon England (Oxford University Press, 1971), p. 279
  2. Mark Harrison, Anglo-Saxon Thegn AD 449-1066 (London: Osprey, 1993), p. 9
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 The Wiley Blackwell Encyclopedia of Anglo-Saxon England, Second Edition, eds. Michael Lapidge, John Blair, et al. (Chichester, West Sussex: John Wiley & Sons, 2014), p. 243

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