This was a carpenter's tool for boring holes larger than those bored by a gimlet. It has a handle placed crosswise by which it is turned with both hands. There have been spoon augers found in Britain from the Anglo-Saxon and Viking eras onwards.
This tool was very important when making a timber-framed building, as every joint needed to have a hole bored through to take the wooden peg which held it together. Spoon augers were eventually replaced by an improved tool - the screw auger, although chair-makers used spoon augers into the 19th century.
A spoon auger like this one requires a starting hole which usually is made with a gouge or chisel, although some spoon augers have a sharpened tip. The auger depends on a continuous push to keep it cutting. The wood shavings remain in the hole until they are removed, unlike the screw auger, which was invented with a twisted blade which removes the wood scrapings as it makes the hole.
This auger is part of our display of carpentry tools of the kind that would have been used to make Whitehall around the year 1500.