Once again an article has aroused my curiosity. So I went looking, and this is what I found.
Magna Carta, signed on 15 June 1215, said, “Let there be one measure …”.
In 1862, a Select Committee on Weights and Measures was formed, and produced a report containing the following measures :---
In the imperial system, 1 coomb was equal to 2 strikes.
At Beccles (market?), wheat was sold by the coomb of 240 lb
At Holmfirth, wheat was sold by the strike of 2 pecks. In the imperial system, 1 strike was equal to 2 bushels.
The bag was used for selling some commodities such as wheat and oats. Wheat was sold by the bag of 11 scores at Bridgenorth, of 11 scores 4 lb at Much Wenlock, of 11 scores 10 lb at Ludlow, of 12 scores at Leominster, of 2 bushels at Saltash and at Modbury. Oats were sold by the bag of 3 bushels at Saltash and of 20 gallons at Modbury. The measure of a score as weight or capacity has been lost in antiquity.
Wheat, oats and barley were sold by the boll at Barnard Castle, Darlington and Glasgow. It represented a volume of 2 bushels and weights of 240 lb, 264 lb, 280 lb, 320 lb, depending on the commodity and location where the transaction took place.
There was once a wide variety of different bushels in use. Bushels of 8 gallons, 20 stones, 60 lb, 63 lb, 70 lb, 73 lb, 80 lb and 163 lb were used for selling wheat. There were many other bushels of different sizes used for selling other commodities. The bushel varied in size from 5 quarters in some places to 488 lb in others.
The most familiar barrel in current use is the oil barrel, which contains exactly 42 US gallons (approximately 35 imperial gallons or 159 litres). However, the UK once used some of its own barrels for particular commodities. A barrel of soap contained 256 lb, a barrel of gunpowder contained 112 lb and a barrel of anchovies contained 30 lb. An oats barrel of 14 stone was used in Dublin and Dundalk, an oats barrel of 24 stone and a barley barrel of 24 stone were used in Sligo, a barley barrel of 16 stone was used in Dublin. A barley barrel of 224 lb was used in Preston for malting and a barley barrel of 240 lb was used in the same location for grinding. A coal barrel of 2 hundredweight 2 quarters was used in Downpatrick. In the Table of Agricultural Statistics of Ireland, the wheat barrel was 20 stone, the oats barrel was 14 stone, the barley barrel was 16 stone and the potato barrel was 20 stone.
Yes, there was a unit called a “measure”. This was used for selling wheat and oats. Wheat was sold by the measure of 75 lb in Chester and Wrexham. Oats were sold by the measure of 46 lb in these areas.
At Llandovery, wheat was sold by the winch of 1 Winchester bushel.
At Preston, wheat was sold by the windle of 220 lb.
Confused now? I am.
I now prefer to buy my wheat as bread, barley as beer, chickens as either eggs or oven-ready.
Breathe easy all