Wednesday, April 29, 2009

quern stones

!0 years ago on an abandoned and lonely mule track which leads up to my new found woozle’s rock, I found what looked like the base of a quern stone after the stone had been removed. There were two of them on the same slab of rock. This was odd enough but what is really unusual though is that the rock is at about 900m, in the middle of the woods, on a non descript slab exactly the same to my untrained eye, as every other slab in more convenient positions for carving and transporting. The oddness of this find has stayed with me for years.

I recently mentioned this to the local carvings expert and he expressed surprise so I promised him photos and so yesterday I thought I’d go and get them.

I hunted round with my metal detector near the stones and found nothing and I also looked around for other traces of people whacking rocks with metal chisels and mallets but found nothing.

To my surprise wandering up another possible path a short distance away I found another rock with another quern shaped carving on it and then a couple of yards away another, where the boar was.

There is an old house a few hundred yards away which might explain the manpower but why would anyone need four huge quern stones this far from the village? The rock is the same all over this side of the valley. Historically there was only one mill in the village as far as I know.

The stones were picked out using metal as it should be possible to see from the detail but other than that I suppose there is no way of telling their age.

Apart from the fact that they look like quern stones and are in pairs their location along one of the oldest paths but at the same time in a completely isolated place leads me to think that they might not be quern stones at all but I haven’t a clue what they could be if not.

The oldest paths here are quite easy to find even if the paths, like in the case of the second group of querns, are no longer well trodden. Once, along the paths, instead of coppicing the trees at ground level they coppiced them higher up. This has produced centuries old trees with the base of the coppice trunks now often 4 meters high. Sometimes you come across these in the woods and you can intuit where the path went by following the line of the trees. Usually, any metal detector finds along these paths are the oldest in the area. Most of the stuff from the 1500s and early 1600s I have found along these old paths so I think they pre-date some of the older houses. Sometimes (though I haven’t seen this myself) prehistoric carvings are sited along the paths which gives convincing evidence for the continuous use since at least the bronze age. None of this though helps me to determine the age of the querns.

What I love about all this is the variety of stuff I get to read about because now I am going to have to do some research to find out all about the production of quern stones. I’m going to see friend expert later on today too to see If he has any ideas

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