|King Arthur's Hall, Bodmin Moor, Cornwall|
It is a portable hand-mill used for grinding corn, spices, herbs or similar substances. They are found in the Celtic parts of Britain ... Cornwall, Wales, Ireland and Scotland. The lower stone is the stationery Quern, while the upper, mobile, stone is known as the hand-stone.
It is likely that they were invented by the ancient Greeks 2,500 years ago and brought to Britain by Celtic refugees from the Roman invasion of Gaul (France) in the 1st century BC.
|The upper stone of a Scottish|
hand quern from Dalgarven Mill,
The simplest quern consists of two stone discs – the upper of which is rotated by a small wooden handle; or the two stones can fit into each other ... the upper stone slightly concave, the lower one convex.
The stones were made from mill-stone grit and some places bear the name where many querns were quarried, eg Quernmore Crag near Lancaster.
Various types of querns have been found going back in antiquity, ours originating from the Mesopotamian era ... the ones that are found in archaeological sites are of the simple hand held sort. They also found many other uses for the grinding mechanism of the Querns.
Revolving beehive quern-stones and
[lower] a saddlestone on display at
Cliffe Castle Museum, Keighley, Yorkshire.
In the Shetlands tobacco was used as snuff after being ground by a Quern held in the user’s lap ... and here a lamb’s horn was used as a handle.
Fortunately mechanisms have made our lives much easier .. the thought of grinding corn using mill-stones is extremely off-putting! but that’s the way life was ...
This is Quern-Stone - that is what Q is for ..
Part of the ABC - April 2011 - A - Z Challenge - Aspects of the British Countryside
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