Scythes matter at haymaking event

Using this ancient tool is more meditative than macho, something residents can discover at the annual Community Haystacks event


When Aidan Turner in the television series Poldark stripped to his waist to cut down a Cornish field, the ancient practice of scything was momentarily thrust back into the public eye.

Scythes were used in Britain to make hay for more than 2,000 years, but fell out of favour last century due to the emergence of horse-drawn mowing machines and, latterly, the strimmer.

But now East Londoners can learn how to handle a scythe for themselves at the annual Community Haystacks event, which takes place this month on the Marshes.

Austrian scythe expert Clive Leeke will be running workshops, where novices of all ages can learn how to master this ancient haymaking tool.

He explains that we are currently experiencing a “revolution” in scything, with more and more people wanting to learn.

“The revolution began with the introduction here of the Austrian scythe,” he explains.

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