Posted on

Early medieval Irish watermills

1: Introduction
2: Design
3: Chronology
4: Context
5: Conclusions
6: Bibliography
7: About the author


Whilst mills were only concerned with the arable agricultural part of the intensification of the Early Medieval Irish economy we can still say that they were an extremely important part. The continued use of rotary querns and the valuable time and materials invested into watermills tells us that they were used to serve the wider community and create a surplus that would otherwise would not have been required, had they been used only for the peasants’ own consumption or by solely by monastic communities. Their chronology suggests that this was an imported technology that was adopted in order to facilitate this intensification of the agricultural economy. However the watermill is not only important in allowing the processing of more cereals but also because it shows us that trade with the continent was happening at this time, and for this Ireland needed an advanced economy. Finally we can see that whilst it has been argued that watermills were used only by monastic sites, this is unlikely and it seems that they were adopted by all classes. Therefore watermill technology played a key role in the economic intensification of Ireland by allowing more cereal to be processed, this can be seen through new evidence that is more equipped to detail the design, chronology and context of watermills.

Related content