Fulling Mills in Medieval Europe : comparing the manuscript and archaeological evidence

Fulling Mills in Medieval Europe : comparing the manuscript and archaeological evidence

Lecture by Adam Lucas

Given at Colloque Archéologie des moulins hydrauliques, à traction animale et à vent des origines à l’époque médiévale 2011 (November 5, 2011)

This paper provides a brief overview of the current knowledge concerning medieval fulling mills, but is primarily focused on eliciting further information and speculation from conference attendees about recent archaeological finds and manuscript evidence from medieval France and other parts of Continental Europe. The author will present various illustrations of fulling mills from the late medieval and early modern periods and compare them with medieval accounts of their construction, maintenance and repair. This evidence suggests that fulling mills were simply conventional watermills with the same waterfeed and drive mechanisms as grain mills, but which sub-stituted right-angled gearing and millstones with cam-operated trip-hammers and fulling troughs. Although there were at least two different designs of fulling mill (a fact which is readily apparent from the extant illustrations), it may well be the case that others may know of fulling mills which had significantly different designs and layout, as the medieval French terms for ‘fulling mill’ showed considerable regional variation. Through this paper, it is hoped that more light might be shed on this interesting problem, and that some opportunities for scholarly collaboration with the author may arise.

Dr Adam Lucas is a lecturer in the Science and Technology Studies Program at the University of Wollongong, Australia.

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