Bringing the Late Iron Age to Life

Grinding Hulls


So, I have managed to fairly successfully grow Bere Barley here in Southeastern Ohio. The next step is to remove the hulls from the barley grains. I’ve been looking into methods of how this may have been accomplished in my persona’s period, and while there is the great possibility that Finche may have simply ground the barley with the hulls on, I would rather remove the hulls myself.

So, I (and Eidiard) have been looking into this process, and it is possible that Finche would have used a wooden pestle with either a stone or ceramic mortar, or possibly even a cast iron cauldron. So, since I have the latter, I am going to attempt to do this. The first experiment will be with dry grain, to see how difficult it was/would be to remove the hulls. For the second experiment, I will try soaking the grains for an hour, then using the wooden pestle and cast iron cauldron, try to remove the hulls. If soaking for one hour is not enough time, I will increase the time incrementally by 30 minutes.

Once the hulls are removed, then comes the job of grinding the grains into flour. This may be a bit more difficult for me, as I do not have either a saddle quern, or a rotary quern at this point in time. I may simply resort to using the wooden pestle and cast iron cauldron for this… at least until I somehow manage to get my hands on either a saddle or rotary quern. (smile) Of interest to me, was that both were found, in the same archaeological level (c. 4th – 5th CE) at Howe – indicating that both types were still in common use. This was of interest, because generally, the rotary quern replaced the saddle quern simply because it was more effective. Saddle Quern Rotary Quern

From Outwood Mill: “The type of stone most suitable for making millstones is a siliceous rock called buhrstone (or burrstone), an open-textured, porous but tough, fine-grained sandstone, or a silicified, fossiliferous limestone. In some sandstones, the cement is calcareous.” (

What are your thoughts?