The History and Our Goal on Building the Medieval Cart

    This hands-on, interdisciplinary project got its start in the fall of 2001. After the experience, knowledge gained, and the success of our first project the Viking Cargo Boat, we decided to try another project from the Medieval Period.

    After various inquiries we found Curator John Clark of the Museum of London. John gave us drawings of a two-wheeled farm cart that was based on illumination f.162 in the Luttrell Psalter.

    In all my research I could only find one other such cart that was reproduced at the Weald and Downland Open Air Museum in England.

    Curator John Clarkís drawings were then given to Dr.Vickie Ziegler, Director of the Center for Medieval Studies at Penn State University. Vickie was able to have the drawings turned into working blueprints by Mark Bodenschatz and Dave Getz.

    The Luttrell Psalter was written and illuminated in England in the second quarter of the fourteenth century for Sir Geoffrey Luttrell. It is used as a source of pictorial information about everyday life in the Middle Ages. The marginal illuminations in the Luttrell Psalter are representations of episodes of daily life that mingle with religious images as it was lived in the medieval English countryside in the fourteenth century. (Backhouse 1)

    The Psalter contains the psalms and canticles, in Latin, proceeded by a calendar of church festivals and saintsí days and followed by a litany with collects and the Office of the Dead. A single scribe was responsible for the whole of the text. The Psalter is composed of 309 leaves done on vellum. (Backhouse 8)

    Sir Geoffrey Luttrell of Irnham in Lincolnshire was well aware of the magnitude of the undertaking and determined that his association with the manuscript should never be forgotten. His image, together with those of his wife and the wife of his son and heir, is included in the book. (Backhouse 9)

    Based on the Luttrell Psalter cart illumination it would have been used in the 1320-1340 time frame for field and farm work. The cart is shown with seven spokes, but this did not prove workable. Our cart will use the normal 12-spokes/6 felloes as appeared in later illustrations in the late Middle Ages. Two five foot diameter wheels made of elm with the spokes being oak and the felloes ash connected by a beech axle will be used.

    The cartís body and frame will be oak or ash with the body being spindled sided and filled with wickerwork to carry a loose load. The bed length is 6 feet 10 inches with an overall length of 12 feet. The cart measures 5 feet 9 inches in height and 5 feet in width to the center of the wheels.

    Woodwork depends on close jointing and pegging. Iron was used mostly for hinges, hooks and strakes. Heavy nails reinforced the wheel rim. Farm carts were left natural and weathered to a gray in color.

    Two Welsh ponies attached one in front of the other would be capable of pulling about a 700 pound load and will be used to pull the cart.

    In addition to the information supplied by Curator John Clark and Dr. Vickie Ziegler, we have also been able to obtain technical support from Dr. Debra Taylor Cashion and Witmer Coach Shop. Curator John Clark is the Medieval Curator at the Museum of London he has helped us with various suggestions on the cartís components. Dr. Vickie Ziegler is the Director of the Center for Medieval Studies at Penn State University she has helped in the securing of blueprints for the cart. Dr. Debra Taylor Cashion taught at Bryn Mawr College she has helped with various illumination questions. Witmer Coach Shop in New Holland, Pennsylvania has helped with wheel and cart building techniques. Without the help of these talented individuals our cart would still be an idea.

    Our goal for this project is to successfully replicate the farm cart, drive it with a 700 pound load around the soccer field, and donate it to a museum.

Works Cited and Consulted

Backhouse, Janet. Medieval Rural Life in the Luttrell Psalter. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2000.

Clark, John. The Medieval Horse and its Equipment c.1150-c.1450: Medieval Finds From Excavations in London: 5. London: HMSO, 1995.

*Statement by Edward Eisenhuth*

 

CART SPONSORS:

Mr. M. Joseph Brady, Superintendent and Mr. Andrew Terry, Principal Minersville Area School District, P.O. Box 787, Minersville, PA 17954

Ms. Denise M. Stoner, Communications Manager Alcoa Engineered Products

Mr. Rob Crosswell, President Coca-Cola Bottling Co. of Pottsville

Ms. Angela D. Toomey, Marketing Director Fairlane Village

Mr. Chuck Bonner, Engineering Department Goulds Pumps - ITT Industries

Mr. John Hester, John Hester Embroidery

Mr. Tom Melusky, Human Resources Honeywell

Mr. David and Mr. Mark Frew, Owners Kings Village Car Wash

Mr. Brian Kline, Machinist

Ms. Barb Dehner, Training Coach Lowe's RDC 961

Minersville Area Lions Club

Minersville Business and Professional Association

Ms. Dodie Sable, Owner New Promise Farms

Siegel Lumber Company

Mr. David Rogers, Human Resources Manager Tredegar Film Products

 

PERSONAL RECOGNITION:

Mr. Craig Ebling, Alcoa Engineered Products Machine Shop

Mrs. Nancy Hertz, Federal Coordinator for Minersville Area School District - grants

Mrs. Elizabeth Farrell, Project Secretary

Mrs. Annie Buzalko, Cart Signs

Mr. Michael Schoonover, Technical Support

Pat Brennan, Jenn Doyle and Amy Slovick, Website Creators and Photography

Kent Eisenhuth, Website Updates

First National Bank of Minersville, Cart Transportation Donation

Pennsylvania Department of Education, Cart Transportation Donation

Minersville Area Medieval Cart Builders

Alcoa Engineered Products and Billig Trucking, Inc., Transportation of the Cart to the Higgins Armory Museum Worcester, Massachusetts

The Higgins Armory Museum, Cart Exhibit June 2004 to July 2007

Kentucky Horse Park, Permanent Home of the Cart as of July 2007

 

 

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