There has been plenty of visual depictions of
tools, The ones that come to my mind are the Bayeux Tapestry, which shows
men felling trees and building long ships; the tool depictions are fairly
explicit. The Mendel House book has depictions of 14th through 16th century
workers of all types, including several types of woodworkers, carpenters and
Period depictions of Noah building the ark are
good sources, as are depictions of St. Joseph at work. The Campin altarpiece
has a depiction of St. Joseph's workshop with some really good tools in it
including a broadax.
The plough is considered to be one of the most
important (and oldest) technologies developed. In fact, the history of the
plough stretches back to the Neolithic (New Stone) Age that began about 8000
BC in Mesopotamia. In the Middle Ages, however, the plough was radically
improved and was used with multiple-oxen teams.
This innovation facilitated the clearing of the
forests of fertile northwest Europe, Before this time because of the nature
of the soil, it was difficult to plough these fields. And, obviously, this
inability to cultivate these fields reduced the population of northwest
Europe. After the redesign of the plough, allowing the plough to plough the
heavier and wetter soil of northwest Europe, there was a dramatic increase
in agricultural productivity, and subsequently, the population of these
Use for cutting tree's, defence and food
A long-handled scythe enabled the corn to be cut while the worker
remained standing. Held with both hands the crop was reaped by a slicing
action. The scythe was mainly used for cutting grass and harvesting
barley and oats.
The flail was two pieces of wood joined together. The handle was
attached to a smaller piece called the striker. The flail was used to
separate the grain from the harvested sheaves.
A harrow was used for breaking up the soil and covering over seeds. The
harrow had between four and six wooden beams called bulls, into which
were set iron or wooden teeth. The bulls were joined together by wooden
A sickle was the main tool used by medieval farmers for cutting corn.
The iron blade was angled backwards from the handle to allow a smooth
cutting motion. The sickle enabled the corn to be cut without too much
strain on the wrist.
- Haymaking Forks
Haymaking forks were made of wood with two or three ironed prongs. These
were used for ground preparation or for haymaking.
A spade was made of wood with iron shoes to protect it from wearing out.
It was used for preparing the ground, especially on the croft. it was
also used for digging ditches when draining land. Before planting seeds
it is necessary to breakdown the earth.
- Moulboard Plough
A moulboard plough that produced a deep furrow and turned the earth
after it had been cut by the coulter and share. The moulboard was the
device for guiding the plough and turning the earth over. To get the
right depth for the seed the plough has to both cut and turn the earth.
A rake was used for spreading and collecting grass during haymaking.
Those farmers who could not afford a harrow used a rake
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