The man who grew up at our farm visited a few months ago. It was a pleasure to hear him talk about how life had unfolded in his childhood, where his room had been, what colors had decorated the walls and what items were at use. When he saw the barn gallery he asked:
“but where’s the grindstone?”
Good question. I didn’t know there used to be one. Naturally I had to investigate.
But first, let me give you some nerdy facts about grindstones.
A grindstone is a circular stone used for sharpening tools like swords, scythes and knives.
They are usually made from sandstone (quarts and feldspar).
Its hard to say how old this sharpening method is, but there is a drawing of a grindstone in the Utrecht Psalter (830 CE) and in The Luttrell Psalter (around 1340 CE). Some claim that the first Norwegian grind stone was at use in the smithy at Akershus festning (fortress in Oslo) in 1487 and that they became common at farms in Norway throughout the 1800s.
In our region there is a lot of sandstone. Up until the mid 1900s farmers used to produce grindstones during winter as a subsidiary income.
In one winter a hard working farmer could chisel 2 or 3 stones for sale. Imagine spending weeks working outside, chiseling away at a stone, cutting it straight out of the rock. And then, when its done you have to haul it through the forest, down the mountain side and back home.
In a grindstone quarry near by there are several huge stones, split in half and left behind.
Imagine how anger and frustration wash over you when the grindstone you have been working on for four weeks cracks in two due to a bad blow with the hammer on the chisel.
I would throw up.
So, the farm grindstone that was situated under our barn gallery had been sold of at a farm auction a few years ago.
After learning this I couldn’t get the grindstone of my mind.
Why would someone wish to remove it?
It felt like a part of the farm was missing.
Who had removed it? Where was it now? Could I get it back?
Thus the hunt for the grindstone began.
After asking around a bit with the neighbors I learned that the stone had been dismantled and sold of at the auction for about 15 Euros.
“What!? 15 Euros… that’s nothing! I have to buy it back”
Why even bother dismantling the stone for that amount?
The problem was that no one remembered who bought the stone. One neighbor did however remember something about a barn where the stone might have been stored.
I set of to pay the barn a visit.
I didn’t find a stone, but I found two lovely horses and a polite woman whom I chatted with for a couple of hours. She believed my sad grindstone-story, and suggested I visit the elderly couple behind the hill. “I think they attended the auction”, she says.
I’m of to see the elderly couple behind the hill.
I have to walk a few kilometers as the road leading up to their farm is not suitable for my kind of car.
After an encounter with the farm dog, some confusion about who I am, where I’m from and why I’m paying them a visit, I’m invited in for a cup of coffee and some cake.
The elderly couple have many interesting, funny and sad stories to tell. But after three hours , six cups of coffee, seven tiny cakes and many cuddles with the dog I am no closer to finding the grindstone. They can’t remember who bought the stone at the auction. The elderly man knows someone that might know who bought the stone, someone with a better memory, and this someone might also know where its stored. He makes a phone call but no one answers.
Before I take my leave he promises to let me know if this someone returns his call.
Several months have passed and no news of the grindstone.
Eventually I decide to look for a new, old, hand chiseled sandstone grindstone of a particular size carved in our region.
Iv’e had a couple of chances to mingle with the other parents and locals. Naturally I spent that time well, telling the tale of the lost grindstone - elaborating on my desire to acquire a new stone to replace what was lost in the greed of the farm auction. They think I’m a bit weird but its worth it.
One of the other moms text me - someone wants to relieve themselves of a hand chiseled sandstone grindstone of a particular size carved in our region. Not far from here. Not to expensive. In good condition.
I call the seller, transfer the money and convince my dad to come with me with the trailer to pick it up. I also convince Christian to join in, as I need muscle power. The stone was situated at the top of a steep slope, at the top of a hill out by the fjord a bit further south. Its large, very heavy and naturally quite hard to handle.
My dad is probably the kindest person I know. If you only knew half of the weird adventures his beloved daughter has dragged him into…
Anyway, we managed to transport the stone back home and it’s now resting in the farm yard waiting to be mounted.
When I’m done laying down this puzzle of slate we will install the new, old grindstone.
It will be mounted next to the blue door, where the old grindstone was located.
We are planning to use old timber from the barn as the supporting frame.
Once this is done I’m expecting a proud tap on the back from the Tunkallj.
(How to explain who the Tunkallj is? That’s a whole new blog post right there)