The Other Tool-Chest-in-a-Bog


The 14th/15th century Cornaveagh tool chest. Notice the combination of a traditional six-board construction and the use of two end boards. Photo: Rickard Wingård 2016.

A tool chest was found in a bog containing its tools. The history sound familiar? You’re off course thinking of the Mastermyr chest from Gotland. This time it’s  the less well known 14th or 15th century chest found in a bog in the townland of Cornaveagh in the County of Roscommon, now in The National Museum of Ireland in Dublin. The chest contains tools for working wood and stone, but unfortunately I’ve not been able to get my hands on a complete catalogue.

While the chest looks like the traditional six boarded type with slanting end boards, a couple of details make it stand out. The end boards seem to be made from two planks, joined with the help of two small battens placed inside at top and bottom. The bottom batten is visible and I’m guessing it had a second function as rest for the floorboard(s). The top batten is only hinted at by the presence of a peg hole. The second detail is the lid, which is made like the ones we would expect to see on some of the hutch type chests, with horisontal battens on the sides slotted into the front boards.

To some degree we can say that the only reminence of the six boarded chest is the way the side boards are joined together, pegged (or nailed too?) and without mortices. Arches are cut in the leg parts of the the end boards. The chest is a reminder of how the historian’s categories and typologisations fail to grasp the variability of the craft in the past.

A pair of other images of the chest on this blog.

The museum label reads:

«Oak tool chest and tools. This chest, found in a bog, was the toolbox of a medieval craftsman. Some of his tools, such as the spoon bit, are for working with wood but others are for working stone. 14th/15th century. Cornaveagh, Co. Roscommon 1985: 130.»

Litterature and digressions


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