Millstones of The Pennines and North West England
- Dr David Johnson
15th July 2023
Ever since people began cultivating cereal crops 10,000 years ago grain had to be ground down, or milled, into flour to make bread. Up to the Roman period in Britain this could only be done using simple hand querns but, over time, technology improved by introducing circular, horizontal millstones powered by water or wind. Other trades needed the means to crush raw materials to produce their final product: vertical grindstones were used to crush bark for use in tanning, pulp softwood timber to make paper, crush apples for cider, or pulverise gorse for animal fodder.
Millstones and grindstones were roughed out in small quarries and on hillsides wherever suitable stone outcropped, and the evidence of this rural industry can be teased out by examining abandoned ‘roughouts’ that litter many upland areas and by searching for tooling marks.
This book explores production sites across North West England and along the Pennine chain, where millstones and grindstones were sourced from the Middle Ages to the nineteenth century.