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TITLE
Grinding corn and spinning c. 1880
EXTERNAL ID
QZP99_93154_07_02
PLACENAME
Orkney
CREATOR
J Valentine & Co.
SOURCE
Edinburgh and Scottish Collection, Edinburgh Central Library
ASSET ID
38519
KEYWORDS
spinning
wool
corn
flour
grinding
querns
wheels
domestic tasks
Grinding corn and spinning c. 1880

The woman on the left is grinding corn using a device called a quern. Two round, flat stones were placed one on top of the other and grain was poured into a hole in the middle of the top stone. The top stone was then turned, using a wooden handle, to grind the grain between the two stones. The flour would trickle out at the sides.

The other woman is spinning. Before wool could be used to make clothes it had to be spun into yarn. This was originally done using a 'drop spindle', a weighted stick which stretched the wool out and twisted it into yarn. This process was slow and done by hand but it was portable and could be done almost anywhere. Spinning wheels did not come into use in the Highlands until the early 19th century. The 'muckle wheel' was a large wheel turned by hand and requiring the spinner to walk back and forwards to tease the wool into yarn and wind the yarn onto a spindle. The smaller 'Saxony wheel' became common after 1850. It was operated by a treadle and could do the work much quicker than the drop spindle method.

The photograph was registered with the publisher, Valentine, in 1880

The major archive of monochrome topographical views by James Valentine & Co. is held by the University of St Andrews Library. For further details of this collection please contact the Library, or refer to Special Collections at St Andrews


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Grinding corn and spinning c. 1880

spinning; wool; corn; flour; grinding; querns; wheels; domestic tasks

Edinburgh and Scottish Collection, Edinburgh Central Library

I F Grant Photographic Archive

The woman on the left is grinding corn using a device called a quern. Two round, flat stones were placed one on top of the other and grain was poured into a hole in the middle of the top stone. The top stone was then turned, using a wooden handle, to grind the grain between the two stones. The flour would trickle out at the sides.<br /> <br /> The other woman is spinning. Before wool could be used to make clothes it had to be spun into yarn. This was originally done using a 'drop spindle', a weighted stick which stretched the wool out and twisted it into yarn. This process was slow and done by hand but it was portable and could be done almost anywhere. Spinning wheels did not come into use in the Highlands until the early 19th century. The 'muckle wheel' was a large wheel turned by hand and requiring the spinner to walk back and forwards to tease the wool into yarn and wind the yarn onto a spindle. The smaller 'Saxony wheel' became common after 1850. It was operated by a treadle and could do the work much quicker than the drop spindle method.<br /> <br /> The photograph was registered with the publisher, Valentine, in 1880<br /> <br /> The major archive of monochrome topographical views by James Valentine & Co. is held by the University of St Andrews Library. For further details of this collection please contact the Library, or refer to <a href="http://www.st-andrews.ac.uk/specialcollections/"target="_blank">Special Collections at St Andrews</a> <br /> <br /> <br /> This image can be purchased.<br /> For further information about purchasing and prices please email<br /> <a href="mailto: central.edsc.library@edinburgh.gov.uk">Edinburgh Central Library</a>