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What is a Hide?

A hide was originally the amount of land that would support one extended family. The actual size of a hide varied according to the quality of the land.

By the time of Domesday, the hide had become standardized to approximately 120 acres, although there appear to have been local variations.

The hide became a unit of military assessment. In the Norman period every five hides contributed on fighting man to the land army.

In the Burghal Hidage, each hide contributes one man to defend the wall:

“For the maintenance and defence of an acre’s breadth of wall sixteen hides are required. If every hide is represented by one man, then every pole* of wall can be manned by four men. Then for the maintenance of twenty poles of wall eighty hides are required”

* one pole equals 5.03m