From: Aoife
Date: September 1, 2004 1:15:56 PM CDT
Subject: Links: Medieval Tools.

Hi all. This week, prior to getting my new system set up, I am going to send this list out to a few places and depend upon you all to forward as needed, rather than hitting all the various places I normally do send. Please accept my apologies. If you do send it on, please strip my personal information>from the list first.

I had the opportunity to come across two individuals at Pennsic whose personal SCA mandate is getting information to YOU. They are Iustinos Tekton called Justin and his wonderful lady Malicea (sp?) of SCAtoday, of the Midrealm, and Stefan of Stefan's Florilegium from Ansteorra. Wow, what knowledgeable people, and incredibly wonderful to know. I'd like to point out that they give many hundreds of hours of their time to get information to you, and they do it at no cost, often out of their own pockets, and then they distribute or publish this information for anyone to read. People like this are what make the SCA what it is today, so I hope I may be the first of many to stand up and applaud your efforts, good people. Thank you for
what you do.

This week we are focusing on: Medieval Tools. So frequently I hear an artist or a teacher say "we don't really know what they used to do this" or"we don't know what the tools looked like". So, here to dispel some of that myth is a Links List devoted to tools. If you're a medieval toolman/woman, then please read on for more information about the tools of your trade.

Remember to forward this missive on (without my personal address attached) wherever it may be of interest.



Dame Aoife Fin of Ynos Mon, Ol, OP
Barony of the Endless Hills

Castle Learning Center: Medieval Tools
(Site Excerpt) Shovels and spades were made of wood, but some cutting tools were tipped with iron. Poorer quality wood was used for wicker and basket-work. Much work time would have been spent resharpening or replacing the tools.

Medieval Farm Tools
While this site is pretty basic, scroll down, then click on a menu item to be taken to a description, method of use, and an historical illustration of the tool.

Stefan's Floilegium: Tools-Bib
(Site excerpt from ONE message of several) Plenty of visual depictions of tools exist. The ones that most immediately come to my mind are the following. The Bayeux Tapestry shows men felling trees and building longships; the tool depictions are fairly explicit. The Mendel Housebook has nice depictions of 14th through 16th century workers of all types, including several types of woodworkers (carpenters/joiners, turners, and, for lack of a better qualification, makers of textile tools).
Period depictions of Noah building the ark are good sources, as are depictions of St. Joseph at work. The Campin altarpiece has a lovely depiction of St. Joseph's workshop with some really good tools in it (including a broadax).
See also: Reconstruction and Use of a Saxon Plane

Pictures of Medieval French Woodworking Tools from Dictionairre Raisonne' du Mobilier Francais
See also: European Woodworking tools at

The Medieval Technology Pages
Agricultural Tools
(Site Excerpt) Many agricultural tools, such as the plow, have been known since antiquity. Nevertheless, the Middle Ages saw the introduction of new tools, little-used old tools, and the importation of tools developed elsewhere. It is not possible to rank these in order of importance. Each played a role in the development of medieval agriculture. The cumulative result of these improvements was a major increase in agricultural productivity. Se also the main page at:

A Carpenter's Chest: Tool sof the 15th Century by Lord Findlaech Mac Alasdair (Acrobat reder required)

Medieval Science and Scientific Instruments by Richard A. Paselk
(Site Excerpt) Since I was a child I have had a strong interest in how we humans understand and measure our world. Consequently I have played with and collected measuring instruments for almost as long as I can remember. This interest in turn lead me to pursue the types of measurements made by earlier cultures, in particular Medieval Europe, and how they made them. Such instruments are rare, and most of us have little opportunity to see, let alone handle or own such artifacts. Thus since the mid-1980's I have been occasionally building my own working replicas of ancient scientific and philosophical instruments.

German language article on Roman Carpenter's Tools: Wolfgang Gaitzsch R?mische Werkzeuge
While I don't understand the language myself, there are some great photographs of tool illustrations.

Early Wood Lathes
(Site Excerpt) The Egyptian lathe is based on a stone carving which may be the earliest pictoral representation of a lathe. Artifacts as early as the 7th century B.C. have been found which appear to have marks consistant with having been turned.

Museum of Woodworking Tools

Museum for Old Techniques in Belgium--English Link provided!

Medieval Leatherworking Techniques--Tools

New York Carver: Painting With Light: Tools & Techniques (Stained Glass)
(Site Excerpt) ".if you want to assemble simple windows, first mark out the dimensions of their length and breadth on a wooden board, then draw scroll work or anything else that pleases you, and select colors that are to be put in. Cut the glass and fit the pieces together with the grozing iron. Enclose them with lead cames...and solder on both sides. Surround it with a wooden
frame strengthened with nails and set it up in the place where you wish."

Hugues Libergier and his Instruments
(Site Excerpt) As can be expected from the effigy of an architect, it is accompanied by several instruments of his profession: a square, a compass, and a measuring rod. While these instruments are frequently found in conjunction with the representation of architects, whether on tomb slabs, sculpture, in construction scenes on manuscript pages or stained glass panels [4], it is the square to the right of Hugues that has received the most attention from scholars in search of the secrets of medieval construction.

St. Helena, St.Eloi & blacksmith's tools: Broughton, Bucks.
(Site Excerpt) The two saints, Helena on the left, stand against a diapered background, surrounded by a scrollwork border. Below them is a cluster of blacksmith's tools and products of the forge, including many keys and padlocks (interestingly, the OED gives 1478 as the first known usage of this latter word) along with horse-trappings complete with horse (at the
right) and much else. All of these, shown here against a squared pattern suggesting a chequered floor, are attributes of St. Eloi, who was a blacksmith and goldsmith in his earlier life, before he became eventually bishop of Noyon in France.

The Mastermyr Toolchest (Original Viking tools)

Regia Anglorum Ironworking