Station: [6] Stone Floor / Tun

Here on the stone floor, wheat, spelt and rye are milled into flour.

The full sack of grain arrives here on the stone floor via the trap door, suspended from a rope. That rope runs over a spindle on the dust floor, one level up – you’ll be seeing it later. The miller gives the suspended sack a push in the direction of the tun – the wooden case that encloses the millstones – sets it down, opens it, and pours the grain into the hopper.

The tun and funnel, called a shoe, are next to the upright shaft – which has its own audio stop, number five.

The tun, or vat, encases two heavy, cast millstones, each weighing about a tonne. The one at the bottom is called the bedstone. Only the upper millstone rotates – that’s the runner. It’s powered by the stone shaft. Just look at the ingenious gear system. The cogs of the great spur wheel on the slowly rotating upright shaft mesh with the teeth of the smaller stone nut, which in turn drives the stone shaft.

A device called a damsel shakes the grain between the two millstones, where it’s then milled. The damsel is kept in motion by a square shaft and ensures that the grain is evenly distributed. The centrifugal force channels the flour through the furrows – the fine grooves cut into the millstone. The flour falls through a chute to the meal floor, where it’s collected in a sack fastened to the end of the chute. 

Millstones wear down over time and need to be re-cut, a process known as “dressing”. The miller would use a millstone crane to lift the heavy runner – that’s the wooden crane with the big pincers. As it’s held in the pincers, the stone is turned so that the miller can re-cut the furrows with a dressing tool called a mill pick. If you’d like to know what a mill pick looks like, you’ll find one on display in the museum – or on the screen of your smartphone.

When you’re ready, please take the stairs up to the floor just beneath the cap, known as the “dust floor” – but take care, the stairs are steep!

Photos: © Dagmar Trüpschuch und Förderkreis Alte Mühle Donsbrüggen