From Hyllestad to Selbu; Norwegian millstone quarrying through 1300 years

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Authors:Grenne, Tor; Heldal, Tom; Meyer, Gurli B.; Bloxam, Elizabeth G.
Author Affiliations:Primary:
Geological Survey of Norway, Trondheim, Norway
University College London, United Kingdom
Volume Title:Geology for society
Volume Authors:Slagstad, Trond, editor
Source:Geology for society, edited by Trond Slagstad. Special Publication - Norges Geologiske Undersokelse, No.11, p.47-66. Publisher: Geological Survey of Norway, Trondheim, Norway. ISSN: 0801-5961
Publication Date:2008
Note:In English. 39 refs.; illus., incl. sketch maps
Summary:"Industrial-scale" millstone production in Norway dates back to at least AD 700. Recent detailed mapping in the Hyllestad and Selbu areas has identified extensive quarry landscapes, which together demonstrate the development in "industrial scale" millstone production over a period of 13 centuries. Based on geological characteristics, traces of quarrying techniques and archaeological dating, it is possible to relate different stages within this history to technological development, population change, market demands and other influences from the surrounding society. Production at Hyllestad, which dominated the Norwegian millstone market from the pre-Viking Age, was based on carving of relatively soft but massive garnet-kyanite-muscovite schist directly from the bedrock in shallow quarries, a technique that was essentially similar to Iron Age soapstone extraction. A change to a more centralised and technologically advanced production in larger and deeper quarries occurred in the 12th century, possibly introduced by professional stonemasons connected to the establishment of monasteries and churches. A marked decline in activity at Hyllestad after the High Middle Ages was followed by the rise of millstone production at Selbu in the 16th century, based on wedging of more easily cleavable staurolite-biotite schist. It is likely that this dramatic change in market dominance was influenced by the partial collapse of social and trade structures following the Black Death and recurrent plague outbreaks throughout the late 14th and early 15th centuries, when the millstone trade was practically in ruins due to the small population size and the market was left open for "newcomers" when population and trade recovered in the 16th century. Equally important was the increasing demand for larger and more durable millstones caused by the gradual change from querns to water mills and from farm mills to village mills and commercial trade mills, a demand that could readily be met by the geological conditions that existed in the Selbu area. [R.A.H.]
Subsections:Non-metallic deposits
Subjects:Archaeological sites; Archaeology; Cenozoic; History; Holocene; Metamorphic rocks; Metasedimentary rocks; Methods; Middle Ages; Mining; Quarries; Quaternary; Schists; Surface mining; Technology; Upper Holocene; Europe; Norway; Scandinavia; Sor-Trondelag Norway; Western Europe; Hyllestad Norway; Millstones; Selbu Norway; Sogn og Fjordane Norway
Abstract Numbers:08M/2706
Record ID:2008128839
Copyright Information:GeoRef, Copyright 2019 American Geosciences Institute.
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