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Bringing Norwegian Millstones to America
June 14, 2019 @ 1:00 pm - 2:00 pmFree
Millstones are among the most widespread and abundant artifacts from the past. They can be seen at farms, in gardens, in dry-stone walls, and along streams long after the mill itself has disappeared. On the west coast of Norway in areas such as Selbu millstone production lasted for more than 1000 years before it ceased around 1930.
A number of Norwegian millstones were brought to America by Norwegian emigrants in the nineteenth century at a time when commercial mills were scarce and when wheat was a key crop in Wisconsin and adjacent states. This talk will weave together historical and geological information that tells the amazing story of these stones, so different than other millstones used in North America.
Our speaker, Dr. Joe Hannibal has research interests in paleontology and geology. He is an authority on fossil myriapods (arthropods including millipedes and centipedes). He also specializes in cultural geology, the interface between geology and human culture.
Another of Hannibal’s cultural geology projects is investigating the origins of millstones in the United States. These disc-shaped stones were an essential part of milling grain in the 19th century, but where they were made and how they were distributed is unclear. Hannibal’s work has focused on millstones in Ohio, and he has identified a method of using microfossils to distinguish millstones made from stone of French origin from those made of other, similar stone from Ohio. This work is a portion of a broader study of millstones across the country and in Europe