Trade memorials and gravestones.

Throughout the 17th century there was increasing competition between the burgh merchants and the trade guilds. The merchants for a long time held the positions of authority and power, in part due to the fact that they also had money to spend and lend. The merchants of the City of London were for a long time the main source of funding for the King. Superiority, or snobbery if you like, appeared in the graveyard with the quality and size of memorials and family graves. The Guilds, however, gradually took pride of place as the 17th century edged towards the industrial revolution with innovations in production and increasing consumer demand. This was reflected in the emblems that appeared in their gravestones as a certain pride in one`s status emerged.

Some of the symbols of certain trades are much older and more common  such as the smith - whether the blacksmith who worked iron or the tinsmith, the silver and copper smiths. These came together under the signs of the `Hammermen`  and included workers of  almost any kind who applied a hammer in the course of production, Thus it also included the armourers, goldsmiths, pewter workers, glovers, saddlers, and even girdlemakers. Some of the specialist groups later formed their own guilds or society. The general symbol was the crown above a hammer, but also the anvil, pincers, rasps, horshoes, bellows and wire drawing tools for making nails used by the metal smiths / blacksmiths.

Another long standing symbol was that of the miller who used sheaves of corn, scales, millstones  and brushes. The commonest was the piece of the machinery called the `rind` which supported the upper millstone - the image of crossed rinds was called the `mouline` The associated trade of the bakers used the tool called a peel, a long handled kind of flat shovel used to put dough into the oven and for lifting out the baked bread; they also used a tool called the scuffle - another long handled tool with cloth wrapped round the end for cleaning out the ovens. More prosaically there was the rolling pin.

No town or village worth the name   was without a  Maltman who prepared the barley (called bear) used in brewing beer. They too used long handled shovels, including the slatted version called the  mash oar, for stirring the hot mash. They also used tongs for handling peat and specialist tools - the firehook or weedock used when stoking the fire. With this group were the brewers  who used the barrel of ale and also the `garbe` a  sheaf of corn. The barrel makers or coopers, used the symbol of the dividers ( to measure and circumscribe arcs and circles ) and their hammer used to drive the metal bands round the staves and hold the barrel together. The coopers would not have known the modern, official description of the barrel - "the middle frustrum of a prolate spheroid".

Farmers, mostly tenants ( feu holders would be wealthy enough for a more prestigious memorial)  used a range of symbols which were largely self evident to the people in the farming community but probably unrecognised by a modern town dweller. These were the `sock` ( which held the coulter in place) and `coulter`  (the blade that cuts into and turns the soil) - the metal parts of old ploughs. They also used  farming equipment - the swingle trees ( the pivoted cross bar to which horse or oxen traces were fastened) , the infamous flail ( a favoured weapon of the Galloway Covenanters)  and the caschrom - the foot plough that gave a single  shallow furrow. Also yokes, harrows and quite rarely, butter churns and cheese presses.

Other old trades were the wrights- woodwrights, shipwrights, wheelwrights etc who used the hammer, axe, saw, dividers and set square. The masons and stoneworkers used the symbol of the  three castles, the trowel, dividers, wedges, the set square, the level and the mell or mallet.  The slaters used their hammer (rather like a mountaineers pick in shape) and their special draw knife with its T shape but with a curved blade and sharp pointed ends.

A trade of long standing were the weavers or `wobsters` whose symbols were mainly the frame, reed and shuttle of the  loom, and the tenterhooks or stretchers shaped like a claw. The other main trade in cloth working was the waulkmiller, who cleaned and fulled ( thickened the cloth by beating and washing) the wobster`s production or warp - they used as symbols very large shears and the fulling pot ( an urn shaped container holding water). The tailor was often the winter job of the cottar whose family may also have been weavers. The tailor`s emblems were the `goose` - a pressing  iron with a rounded handle, the pressing iron with a straight handle, shears, bobbins and a pressing board (the modern day ironing board).

Other trades used symbols of their speciality - the cordiners or shoemakers  had the sole cutter, nippers, awl and their special knife - a large curved blade with handle in the middle, used to cut leather with a `rocking` action. The fleshers or butchers had their axe, cleavers and sharpening steel. The fishermen had their boats, nets, oars and fish with sometimes an inscription of "Lax fisher" meaning a salmon fisher. The gardeners had their  spade, a rake, a pruning ( or sneading)  knife and vegetable produce. Shepherds had their crook sheep and dogs; fowlers their guns, traps and powder flask; gamekeepers  guns, powder flasks, fishing rods , dogs and birds. A famous stone in this respect is that of John Murray of Kells, a well known character of his day.

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