14 September 2013

Querns

This is the best picture I snapped on Saturday - at Wharncliffe Crags looking northwards to Deepcar and Stocksbridge. It's about six miles out of Sheffield. The name Wharncliffe evolved from the term “quern cliff” because as far back as the Iron Age "querns" were shaped here and then transported to farms and villages throughout the region. Literally thousands of finished and unfinished querns have been found in the locality.

Quern stoneWhat is a quern? -  I hear you asking. It was essentially a rounded stone with a depression in the middle. Using a hand-stone or later a clever rotary stone mounted on a wooden handle,  you ground your grain in the middle of the quern to produce a rough and ready flour. 

The quern on the right  was found at Burton Agnes in East Yorkshire but is now kept in The British Museum in London. It dates from around 350 B.C.. Querns could come in slightly different shapes and sizes. It is hard for modern people to appreciate how much this simple piece of technology meant to our ancestors. It was widely used for hundreds of years and only a few sites in the north of England offered the sort of stone that was best suited to quern production. Wharncliffe was one of the very best.

14 comments:

  1. I need one of these! The last guinea feed I bought was too coarse. When I tried crushing, it splattered everywhere. Well I doubt you got any particles in England but you know what I mean.

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    1. David - we have many particles in England. In fact our bodies are composed of particles. What I wonder is where all of those thousands and thousands of old querns went. I'd like one and if I find another one, I'll send it to you (Postal charges allowing).

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    2. Adrian make a picture of something very similar sometime back. It had water in it or something akin to water. Or he may have just been pulling our leg and it was pee pot. I don't know why he would have a stone pee pot though.

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    3. err made.

      Oh and thanks in advance for the quern if you find two postal charges allowing.

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  2. YP, I have always been baffled by the number of querns and millstones that were manufactured and left lying around.

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    1. Adrian - I have thought the same. So much effort - wasted. It's the same on Easter Island - finished and unfinished moai figures just lying around at the quarry crater.

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  3. Maybe whoever commissioned the work used the same contractor as me and went bust?

    Lovely scenery, especially since it is there in all its unspoilt glory only six miles from a major industrial city.

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    1. re. second paragraph - fancy a job working for Sheffield Tourism?

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  4. Can you pick up a quern and put in in your pocket?

    LLX

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    1. No. They re too big for that Lettice but I would still like to find one and bring it home.

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  5. I have noticed of late, I suddenly and strangely use the wrong words... is it the grey cells dying?

    I should of said 'put it in': worrying to say the least. The worst bit is, I don't see it until it is done, and then sometimes only after it is pointed out to me.

    LLX

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    1. Lettus, Pls donnt frett. wee awl do typos... YP x

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  6. I spent many a Sunday morning roaming and playing up on Wharncliffe Crags. My father worked in Deepcar for most of his working life and knew the surrounding countryside very well. Just last year I got him to take us back to show my wife and family - still great but obviously seemed much smaller and gentle than that wild place I remembered from childhood!
    Thanks for the post/photo, it's brought back memories :)

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  7. YP, remembered your Quern story when I watched this today ~ http://www.abc.net.au/foreign/content/2013/s3855458.htm
    Thought you might be interested since you have been.

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