Rotary Disc Quern

Contributed by Historylinks Museum

This rotary quern of the disc type is made from a hard stone called schist. It was used to grind grain into flour for domestic purposes. The two circular stones fit together with the top mobile stone, called the handstone, rotating over the bottom stationary stone, called the quern thereby grinding any grain between them. The grain is fed in through a central hopper and there are three smaller holes for handles to fit into to turn the handstone. All the handle holes show signs of wear and one had worn right through. This indicates that the handles were loose rather than wedged, which with the tapering and collared hopper indicates a type of disc quern which has been around since the 4th century AD.
Rotary querns were invented around the 1st century BC and were prominent up until the advent of mechanized mills in the mid to late 19th century. This type of quern, a disc with two or three handle holes, is usually only found in Scotland and Northern England.

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  • 1 comment
  • 1. At 13:27 on 17 November 2010, Rebecca Hearne wrote:

    This is lovely. Do you know where this quern was found, and do you have a quarry site for it? Is it definitely schist? I'd love it if someone could tell me!

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