This is an old blog that I started in 2006. I keep it because it has a lot of historical data and people still come here. As of September 2016, no new updates will be made here. All new blog posts and writing/publishing related news will be posted over on my new site at www.jenniferhudsontaylor.net.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Medieval Weights and Measurements

By Jennifer Hudson Taylor

Weights and measurements were not always standard from town to town. Some merchants had to customize various portions based on what the local buyers expected. The local officials often received complaints from buyers who thought a merchant had cheated them. For this reason, it was not uncommon for a local official or the guilds to keep standard weights and measurements made of stone and metal under lock and key. Copies were then made and handed out to merchants for use.

Common Measurements
Acre = one furlong by 4 rods
Barrel = 30-32 gallons           Hand = 4 inches 
Bushel = 8 gallons                  Hogshead = 2 barrels
Cubit = 18 inches                   League = 3 miles (hr walk)
Drams = 60 grains                 Noggin = 1/4 pint
Fathom = 5 1/2 yards            Pace = 2 1/2 feet
Firkin = 1/4 barrel                  Palm = 3 inches
Fortnight = 2 weeks               Peck = 2 gallons
Furlong = 220 yards              Pole = 6 feet
Gill = 1/4 pint                          Sennight = 1 week
Yard = 3 feet                          Rod = 20 "natural feet"
Score = 20 years                  Decade = 10 years
Ell = Elbow length, about 45 inches & used for measuring clothing

Weight Measurements                       
Clove = 7-10 pounds           Kip = 1/2 ton
Fardel = 4 cloves                 Pennyweight = 24 grains
Firkin = 56 pounds               Pound = 317 1/3 grams
Stone = 14 pounds              Ton = 2,240 pounds
Pound = 16 ounces             Ounce - 16 drams
Scruple = 20 grains
Hundredweight = 112 pounds
Grain = .00001736 of a pound

Sources
The Writer's Guide to Everyday Life in the Middle Ages by Sherrilyn Kenyon

2 comments:

Oh boy ... I can hardly wait to tell someone I weigh roughly 2 1/4 firkins. That'll get some stares, for sure!!!

Kathleen, You're so funny! I bet they would look at you funny.