It’s amazing what is contained within all the estate and farm buildings the Trust looks after. Often while working on something else you notice other things of interest or the odd and quirky! While working at Godolphin cataloging archaeological objects found on the estate, we went into one of the out buildings, were some worked stone and architectural pieces of wood are stored.
The upper room of the out building next to the main house was dark and full of portable objects from small pieces of tile to large lumps of wood. But it was the only fixed object in the room that caught my eye.
It is a lovely wooden branch, chosen for the natural curve it had. This was fixed to the ceiling at one end and the wooden floorboards at the other, and attached to it is a metal machine of some kind. There is a hopper at the top, an arm for a handle and a hole underneath.
What could it have been used for? I needed to ask Mal (the property development manager) whose family had worked on the estate for generation’s, he is a font of knowledge and sure enough he told us it was an oyster shell crusher! Oyster shells and other shells were used for many things in the past, to add to clay to help stop pots exploding in the kiln, to add to mortar or help with leveling wall courses, or to help fertilize the land. Oysters have many other interesting facts attached to them especially in an archaeological context, but more of that another time possibly from a guest blogger 🙂