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having a spade-shaped end, which was driven under the doubled back-sides of the iron blade, as shewn in the illustration. The wood still remains under each overlap; and in the middle, between these pieces of wood, there are the remains of a nail or rivet, TH5 in. long, projecting from the plate. This must have passed into or through the thickest portion of the handle base. It is curious that the continuation of the wood handle should, in this case, form the back of the spade, and in No. 3 the front. This spade is roughly made, and very similar in shape and size to those used at the present day by clay diggers and puddlers.
Clay appears to have been the only material used for flooring in the early dwellings of this district; clay also formed the chief ingredient of the walls in these early timber-framed houses. Trenches from which the clay was taken for these purposes are often exposed on the shore, although when first made they must have been some distance from it. They are mostly at right angles to the shore, about 21 feet in width and sometimes as much as 40 feet in length. These trenches were probably commenced at what was known to be the lower portion of the clay bed, and by working upwards the drainage would be from the digger to that portion already excavated.
Fig. 5. The iron blade and sides which were formerly fitted to an oak spade, used for cutting peat or turf. The upper portion of the iron is deeply grooved, to admit the edge of the oak blade; the front is flat; the back is bevelled, and thus forms a sharp cutting edge. The iron sides, which enclosed the wooden blade, are 4I in. long, with beaten-out clips at the top of each. Through the outer sides of these clips there is a hole for the insertion of a nail or other fastening. The width of the inside of the clips indicates that the wood of the spade at that part was & in. thick, tapering to ^ in. at the groove in the iron blade.
Among these ancient agricultural instruments we have examples of the digging fork, and every type of spade in practical use in our own time. Although, of course, we now use improved and better finished articles, it may be questioned whether an ordinary village blacksmith or wheelwright at the present day could turn out better work or more useful specimens of their handicraft.
Figs. 6 and 7. Two iron ploughshares, both of which were socketed. In fig. 7 a portion of the plough handle or frame remains in the socket by which the share was forced through the soil. The socket originally extended for one-half of the length of the share, exclusive of the projection from the upper part, in which is a hole for the insertion of a nail or rivet, by which it would be firmly fastened to the wooden handle of the plough. These primitive implements would effect little more than a scratching of the surface soil, and, unless the soil had been previously cleared from the roots of grass or weeds, the work of forcing these ploughs through the soil by hand must have been very laborious. About one-half of the front pointed end of the iron share is solid and straight, so as to rest horizontally on the ground; from this point the socket commences, and rises to such an angle as would enable a practical man, whilst pushing it forward, to keep the fore part of the plough at a fairly uniform depth below the surface. I possess two other specimens of these iron ploughshares similar in type and make to the two figured here.
Fig. 8. A small but heavily-socketed implement, which may have been used as a weeding spud. The edge of the blade is 2^ inches wide, by little more than 1 inch in length. The socket, which contains the remains of a wooden handle, extends about four-fifths of the entire length. The blade has probably been very much reduced in size by use. In two other somewhat similar specimens in my collection the blades are larger, but being damaged are irregular in outline.
The implement figured and described by Sir John Evans, F.R.S., in Ancient Bronze Implements, p. 71, fig. 48, as an Icelandic palstave, appears to be adapted for similar purposes as the three iron specimens here described.
Fig. 9. A large wooden needle, cut from oak. It is perfect in condition; its length is 16 in., its greatest width ^in., and its thickness ^ in. It is perforated at the larger end with an elongated eye. This needle was probably used for passing cord through thatch, and thus securing it to the roofs of dwellings and outhouses.
Fig. 10. An iron fleam or lancet, used for bleeding horses.
Fig. 11. An oval-shaped wrought iron bell. Dimensions at the top are :—greatest width iT80 in., and width across 1 in. The lower portion or mouth was about 2\ in. wide. On the top of the bell is an iron loop or suspender, which would admit of a leather strap, 1 in. wide, being passed through it. Its probable use was as a cattle or sheep bell.
Fig. 12. A well-made wooden hammer-head. Length y\ in., greatest width 2^5 in., greatest thickness 2 J in. It is cut from very close-grained wood, probably yew, and has evidently seen hard service. The thickest and broadest portion of the head is in the middle, where the handle passed through it. This hammer-head had but one faced end, the greatest width of which was about 2 in. by It^j in. The face of the head was originally flat, and nearly circular, the angles having been rounded and tapered off from the handle. The opposite end is worked to a blunt cutting edge, 2^ in. wide; the under part has a straight bevel, and the upper part a curved bevel. On the under side, at iT5jj in. from the edge, is a small circular hole, which may have been used to fasten a metal cover or blade to the wood.
In the foregoing description of agricultural implements I have not referred to the sheep-shears and sickles left by the inhabitants of this old settlement, which are so similar to those in use at the present time as to render description useless. It appears strange that amongst the many implements of husbandry found at Great Meols no trace of a scythe should have occurred. Could it be that the scythe was unknown, or little used in the neighbourhood? Or was the value of so large a piece of iron for re-manufacture so great as to prevent its being carelessly thrown aside?
Plate B.—Mechanical Implements.
Fig. 13. Among the mechanical implements found is a pair of blacksmith's pincers. So similar are these to those used at the present day, even to the hook at the end of the handle by which they are suspended, that description is almost superfluous. The same might be said of figs. 14, 16, 21 and 22, of which, however, a brief description is given.