5.6.1 Geological report on the querns

by G.D. Gaunt

Context 1055 (sf705) contained numerous small fragments of slag-like vesicular Mayen lava, which is derived from the Eifel region of the German Rhineland. Querns made from Mayen lava were imported into Britain in appreciable numbers from Roman times onwards. Their remains are commonly found as small pieces because the lava tends to fragment if subjected to impact, shearing stress or freeze-thaw effects.

A single piece of Spilsby Sandstone is also regarded as a quern fragment (context 1257, 30). This sandstone forms a narrow outcrop along the western edge of the Lincolnshire Wolds south of Grasby (Gaunt et al. 1992, 67-70). It was used to make querns from at least the Iron Age onwards, with examples being found across the whole of central England (Ingle 1989). Spilsby Sandstone is an unusual find north of the Humber.

Three stone fragments can be attributed to a Crinoid Grit source (from contexts 1006 (31), 2052 and 2070). Two small stone fragments (from context 1132) may also be derived from this source. This stone is part of the Middle Jurassic Scarborough Formation of north-eastern Yorkshire, with outcrops in the Hambleton Hills, Howardian Hills and western parts of the North York Moors. It was used to make querns from the Iron Age onwards, with examples being found in north-east England (Hayes et al. 1980) as far south as Wharram and York (Gaunt 1993, 1329).

A small sandstone fragment (context 1194) is clearly Millstone Grit type. Upper Carboniferous Millstone Grit outcrops in the Pennines, although a similar sandstone occurs in the Coal Measures of the Yorkshire-Derbyshire Coalfield (Wright 1988). Millstone Grit was used extensively for the manufacture of querns, with examples being found across most of England, particularly the north (Ingle 1989). The lithology of a second Millstone Grit type sandstone suggests a localised source in County Durham or Northumberland, possibly from the Middle Tyne area; quern fragments of this lithology are known, notably from Wharram.


© Internet Archaeology URL:
Last updated: Tue Nov 28 2000