Castle Learning Center Tools
Castles of Britain


© 2001-2016 by Marvin Hull
The basic medieval tool design remained virtually unaltered from Roman times. Only the materials they were made from changed. Most medieval tools consisted of iron and/or wood, and could be easily repaired on the premises where they were being used.

Shovels and spades were made of wood, but some cutting tools were tipped with iron. Poorer quality wood was used for wicker and basket-work. Much work time would have been spent resharpening or replacing the tools.

Here are some tools and their uses:

Auger - drilling holes in wood
Axe - felling small trees or cutting firewood
Adaze - cutting slivers from the surface of the wood
Basket - holding stone while it was hoisted at a building site
Billhook - pruning
Cloth Shears - cutting cloth
Crowbar - for manhandling the heavy stones at a quarry and placing stones in their final resting places
Dividers - for measuring
Hammer - to butt stone and drive wooden pegs
Handsaw - to make small wood cuts and more delicate woodworking
Hold On (Tongs) - holding metal as it is being hammered
Mallet - used in conjunction with a chisel to carve wood or stone; the mason or carpenter would strike the chisel with the mallet.
Mason Chisel - used by the masons, along with the mallet, to carve decorative designs into the stones, and for cutting and dressing stone
Nippers - cutting through wire
Pitch Fork - thrusting into sheaves, bundles of hay, so that they could be pitched into a cart
Sharp Blade - cutting through leather
Shearing Shears - cutting fleece from sheep
Sickle - cutting crops
Snip - cutting sheets of metal
Trowel - laying and smoothing mixed mortar on stone or brick
Wood Chisel - shaping and cutting designs into the wood, or splitting wood

medieval tools

As you can see, some of these tools are used today and have the same name and design. Take for example the pitch fork, which in medieval times had two prongs. Today it has two or three prongs, and is used for the same purpose. After hundreds of years the design has not changed for this simple tool.