Byland Abbey Ink Stand


If you haven’t heard of this thing, don’t worry, most people haven’t.

Here is a .pdf of an article about it in an Archaeology Magazine

I was interested in it so I contacted the English Heritage Foundation who is responsible for the Ink Stand and they were kind enough to send me pictures.  If you see something cool people it never hurts to see if the Museum or such will do the same for you.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

7 responses to “Byland Abbey Ink Stand

  1. From a potters point of view I find it very interesting that it looks like the whole thing was a solid lump of clay. Squared off and then holes pushed into the clay. The only decoration is the circular divets (I use the end of a bamboo brush to get the same effect). I have both a sandy iron clay and a green glaze I could make this. Do we have the HLW dimensions?

    • According to the Archaeological magazine the byland abby inkwell “… is 7 in. square and 2 1/2 in. high. Sunk below the top surface are three sets of holes, which differ in number, size and shape. Inside the raised margin on all four sides are fifteen vertical holes, each about 1/4 in. across and I 1/2 to 2 in. deep. Within this series cf holes in adjacent corners are two large conical holes, each 1 1/2 in. across at the mouth and 2 in. deep . At the centre is the largest hole, which is
      basin-shaped, 2 1/4 in. across and I 3/4 in. deep.”

  2. Pingback: Milestone – 5,000 views | scribescribbling·

  3. Maybe the big hole is for ink and the two medium holes are for sand to dry out quills that have gotten soggy? Sand or maybe sawdust. Probably not salt, that would clump. What’s your guesses? I’m venturing that the tiny holes are for cut but not yet used quills. Thoughts?

    • The article from 1960 says the following about the holes:

      “Sunk below the top surface are three sets of holes, which differ in number, size and shape. Inside the
      raised margin on all four sides are fifteen vertical holes, each about 1/4 in. across and 1 1/2
      to 2 in. deep. Within this series cf holes in adjacent corners are two large conical holes, each 1 3/4 in. across at the mouth and 2 in. deep. At the centre is the largest hole, which is basin-shaped, 2 1/4 in. across and 1 3/4 in. deep.”

      The article says this about the use for the holes:

      “The character of the three sets of holes can be explained by the different purposes which they served. The fifteen small holes were to hold the pens, the two conical holes were for the ink, and the large central hole was either for water to clean the pens after
      use or for sand (pounce) used for drying ink before the invention of blotting-paper.”

      We know now that pounce was used BEFORE the ink was put on the paper, not after as the Victorians have wrong told us.

      It makes sense that the conical holes would be for ink and that the rounded hole in the middle would be for something like Gum Sandarac (sand as it was shortened to at one point). Conical holes make solid grainy material very difficult to access the further down you go. Ink on the other hand coming to a point at the end of the cone actually makes it a bit easier to access than a flat or flatish rounded surface might.

      Why two ink wells? One for black and one for another color would be my guess. My thought is that the secondary color would have been red, but I don’t know that.

      It would seem the holes around the edge held quills that were in use and ready to use. We don’t know that, but it would seem rather convenient to have a couple in use and the rest waiting in the wings so to say (okay pun.)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s