The virgate was a unit of land area measurement used in medieval England, typically outside the Danelaw, and was held to be the amount of land that a team of two oxen could plough in a single annual season. It was equivalent to a quarter of a hide, so was nominally thirty acres. A ‘virgater’ would thus be a peasant who occupied or worked this area of land, and a ‘half virgater’ would be a person who occupied or worked about fifteen acres.
The Danelaw equivalent of a virgate was two oxgangs, or ‘bovates’: as these names imply, the oxgang or bovate was considered to represent the amount of land that could be worked in a single annual season by a single ox, and therefore equated to half a virgate. As such, the oxgang represented a parallel division of the carucate. Accordingly, a 'bovater' is the Danelaw equivalent of a half virgater.
‘Virgate’ is an anglicisation of the Medieval Latin virgatus. The historic English translation was yardland.
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