Wheel-Mills

stone, upper, lower, handle, quern, hole, wooden and mill

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The machine, which stands on a table and is shaped like a chest, narrow at the top and wide at the bottom, is engraved on a small stone not more than /, an inch across. In the bottom of the machine there is a perpendic ular pipe, from which the meal appears to be issuing, and on the top is an aperture, perhaps occupied by a basket, from which the corn falls into the mill. From one side there projects a broken shank, which probably rep resents the molile or handle. Though this small figure conveys but a vague idea of its design, we may conclude that the roller, whether of wood or iron, smooth or notched, lay horizontally, thus indicating a con struction more ingenious than that of previous inventions. The axis of the handle may have had within the body of the mill a crown-wheel turning upon a spindle, to the lower end of whose perpendicular axis the roller was fixed. On the side opposite the handle there arise two shafts, which may represent a besom and a shovel, though more probably they are parts of the mill itself.

Roman very early example of the edge stone mill or "chaser" (pl. 2, fig. ir) is the Roman trafiehtm or olive-mill, employed for bruising and separating from the stone the fleshy part of the olive before submitting it to the action of the press. The Figure gives both elevation and section, with the different members properly adjusted. Rich mentions the mola luxea, a small wooden hand-mill for grinding pepper and similar spices, wheat, beans, or lupines.

Pompeian the bakers' shops at Pompeii there have been found several similar mills, consisting of two stones cut in the peculiar shape exhibited in Figure 4, which represents the mill with both stones adjusted for use. The lower millstone (meta) is a cylindrical monolith about 5 feet in diameter at its base and 2 feet in height, tapering cone shape to its apex, to which an iron pivot is fastened. The upper stone (catillus) is shaped like an hour-glass, whose upper half is the hopper, the lower half fitting the conical projection of the lower stone. A socket, made for the purpose, in the centre of the waist, or the narrowed part between the two hollow cones, receives the iron pivot, which serves the double purpose of keeping the upper stone in position and of diminishing or equalizing the friction. The corn descends from the hopper through four holes about the pivot to the solid cone, where it is ground between the upper surface of the latter and the inner surface of the catillus, which is turned by means of radial bars (inserted in the sockets of an iron hoop) worked by slaves. A channel is cut around the cylindrical base, to facil itate the collection of the flour which falls from between the millstones.

Querns, or quern (figs. 2, 3) now in the Edinburgh Museum of Antiquities was brought from North Yell by Arthur Mitchell, from whose The Past in the Present we take the following description : The quern usually stands in a wooden tray, one end of which is built into the wall, the other end being supported on two legs. The lower surface of the nether stone receives little or no shaping, the level being obtained by a clay bedding; the upper stone is always the better finished. The central hole of the under stone is tightly filled with a piece of wood, but through it there is an aperture just large enough to permit the wooden spindle to pass. The lower end of the spindle rests on a narrow board, one end of which lies loosely in a recess in the wall, and to its other end is attached a cord, which is passed double through a hole in the front of the tray, and then over a wooden button. By turning this button the two plies of cord can be shortened or lengthened, and in this way the board on which the lower end of the spindle rests is raised or lowered; from which it is clear that the runner stone will also be raised or lowered. It is this adjustment that permits of grinding coarse or fine; the actual method of obtaining this result is, with slight modification, the same as that in use in more modern mills. The quern is fed through a central hole of the upper stone, across which, on the under surface of the stone, is a wooden socket (r)qui), which receives the upper end of the spindle. The handle for turning it is of wood, fixed in the upper stone, near its margin. Occasionally one cud of a long handle lies loosely in a cup or hole in the stone, while the other end passes freely through a hole in a rafter of the roof of the cottage. In this way two persons can easily engage in turning it. The meal falls from all sides of the quern upon the tray and is removed from one of the corners of the tray, where the ledge is intentionally omitted.

Pennant, in his Tour of Scotland, says querns or band-mills were in use in the Hebrides in 1772, and he gives a representation of a quern in operation. The handle for turning the quern was formed of a long stick of wood, one end of which was fastened to the branch of a tree and the other end inserted in a hole of the runner stone. Ornamented querns of various forms have been found in many parts of the British Isles, where in some districts they have been in use until very recent times. The stones of some have a diameter of from 3 to 3Y feet.

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