Imágenes de páginas

neither indeed is the difficulty at all a serious one-but it is that the copyist should have written down, and with, it would seem, a feebly amiable rather than unquestioning indifference, such inconsistent and self-destructive statements without thought or consideration. The credit that would otherwise attach to the book is thus seriously affected, and the enquiring reader becomes inclined to raise a question as to the authenticity of other allegations similarly advanced.

As to the correction of the one of these two statements which is non-historic, the difficulty, as just noted, is not great; a fact perhaps which only renders the scribe's carelessness or wilfulness the more inexcusable. There can be no doubt that the latter account, or that which assumes the five generations of the Le Flemings, is the correct one. For, in the document which stands as No. ccxc, the Michael (Fleming) de Furness who held of Robert de Denton, Abbot of Furness, is described as “proavus” of John de Cancefield, son of the aforesaid Alina. Now, Robert de Denton was certainly Abbot in the interval between 1217 and 1235, and the Michael (le Fleming) de Furness holding of him can, by no possibility, be identified with the Michael le Fleming who was living in 11 27, and earlier still, and whose son William was still alive in I 201, and who is also continually spoken of in the Coucher as having “enfeoffed ” Ewanus the first Abbot. The Michael (le Fleming) de Furness, then, who was the great-grandfather of John de Cancefield, Alina's son, and held of Abbot Robert, must have been the second of that name, and grandfather of the Michael, the third of the name, who was accidentally drowned in the stream called the Leven. Of course it might be advanced by a captious critic that, as in the somewhat parallel case of the De Couci genealogy, just now adverted to, there might have been some object subserved by an intentional misstatement of the facts; but there surely seems to be little enough to be gained by such a proceeding in the present instance. In all probability, utter carelessness or heedlessness on the part of the scribe by whom the whole (and apparently in unbroken continuity) was written, is a quite sufficient explanation of this, and many another mistake, with which the folios of the Coucher are unhappily disfigured.

There is also occasion for the expression of regret in reference to some of the matters, mention of which, whether more or less detailed, has happily been preserved for our notice and consideration. I refer especially to the notices which occur of the manufacture of iron and salt. As regards the former, it is true we have details, and those of remarkable interest; but at the same time they are not simply far from being exhaustive, they are, on the contrary, in several respects, meagre and disappointing. For instance, we have no information whatever, either of a direct or an inferential character, such as to enable us to arrive at any conclusion as to the extent to which the iron-stone was worked by the Convent, or as to the fuel used, or the source or sources from which the said fuel was obtained. In other like cases this is not so: we meet with statements,



definite and precise, as to the nature and quality of the fuel to be employed in the process of reducing the iron, and as to the quantities made available, and so, in the way of inference, to something connecting itself with a sort of estimate of the quantity produced. Thus from the Gis

. burn (Guisborough) Chartulary we learn that there was no limit placed by the Grantor of the privilege of digging and reducing the iron-ore over a very considerable area, to the appropriation and employment by the grantees of whatever timber or available wood could be found growing within the aforesaid area; and a calculation founded on the various sites of the specified Iron-works, with the evidence afforded by the still extant residua from the working of these divers mines and furnaces, and with a further calculation of the amount of charcoal requisite for the production of, say, a ton of iron, and of the actual quantity of wood available for the purpose of being converted into charcoal within a given cycle of time, enable us to arrive at an estimate, not altogether unsatisfactory, of the probable production of iron annually by the various fabricæ which are kmown to have been in blast-if the use of such a phrase may be permitted—between circa 1180 and 1450, or, it may be, considerably later still. And again, much the same is true with respect to the ancient iron-working carried on by the monks of Rievaulx, only with this difference, that the donors of iron privileges, inclusive of both the mineral and the wood for making the charcoal necessary for reducing it, were much more chary in regard of the wood given than were the Grantors to Gisburne.


For they only conceded the right to use the dead wood which could be met with in what were, collectively, the extensive forests they were permitted to seek it in.

It is true we have more varied information, regarding the matter from another point of view, as to the processes of winning the stone, preparing it for the furnace, and so on, in the case of the Furness documents, than we have in the like sources of information belonging to the records of Gisburne and Rievaulx. It is made abundantly evident by the characteristics of the great majority of the sites of the furnaces employed by the Canons of Gisburne that water was looked upon as a desideratum, if not a sine qua non, when making a selection for the situation of a furnace, or rather, group of furnaces—for there appears to be no doubt that, as a rule, these primitive furnaces, hearths, astra, faverca, fabrica, forgie (all these terms being employed), were all built in groups of three, four, or moreand their vicinity, in the great majority of cases occurring in this district of Cleveland, to a stream of running water, and in many instances rapidly-running water, led on to sundry surmises as to the actual employment of the water in the manufacture. For myself, I am constrained to admit, that, when in divers cases I came upon a stream of water running close by the place of the ancient hearth, with a fall of one foot in every ten or twelve, the idea that presented itself to my mind was that of water-power, utilised in the way of creating the draught or blast which was altogether indispensible in the processes of reduction. And, even still, I should be most reluctant to admit that


the water-power evidently existing was in no case utilised in that especial manner. But the Furness Charters throw quite a new light upon the question generally; for we meet with not only special grants of what may be described as water-privileges, but equally precise specifications of the uses to which the water conceded was to be put. The phrase "ad lavandum” occurs so often, and under such circumstances, that there can be no doubt whatever that the iron-stone, before it was subjected to the heat of the furnace, was carefully washed, and, so, cleansed from the impurities which otherwise must have interfered with a sufficient action of the comparatively feeble furnace of the day. That, in this district, the process which was called “hand picking” was in vogue—and indeed was not discontinued until a comparatively quite recent period—is a matter which goes without saying. So many of the beds, or rather seams, of iron-stone which were largely drawn upon for the supplies of ore employed in the middle ages, were not only so inferior in themselves, but so intermixed with shale and other impurities, that some process of severing between the bad and the good was altogether and absolutely necessary; and the process that most readily suggested itself was that of hand-picking, necessarily. But still, there was nothing save the vicinity of the water itself to suggest the practice of washing. That it was largely in use, however, I think, from the direct testimony

I of these Furness deeds, tending as it does to the explanation of the almost perpetual occurrence of water in the immediate vicinity of the still identifiable sites of

« AnteriorContinuar »