The Lost Winchester Bushel, the Magna Catra, and the origin of the Troy and Scottish (mercantile) Pounds
The volume of the lost Winchester Bushel has been found. It is exactly a one Minoan foot cubed.
This ancient foot was used to build the Minoan palaces on Crete in the second and third millennium BCE. Its cube may well have been the origin of both the Troy system of weights and the Scottish (mercantile) pound of medieval England.
Let me explain.
During the tenth century, the capital city of the English King Edgar was at Winchester and, at his direction, standards of measurement were instituted. Following the Norman Conquest, the King Edgar physical standards (prototypes) were removed to London.Later in 1215 the Magna Carta established the London Quarter of eight Bushels as the standard of volume for all of England. This Bushel was called the Winchester Bushel.
In 1266, after the original standards were lost, King Henry III issued the “Assize of Bread and Ale” which established a formula by which the volume of the Bushel, the Gallon, and by inference the Pint and the London Quarter could be derived. Applying these formulas has led to this surprising discovery.
The Assize established the Gallon at eight Tower Pounds of corn (grain) and the Bushel at 8 gallons or 64 Tower pounds. A quick calculation of the size of a 64 pound cube of grain at the standard specific gravity of 0.8 yields a cube 30.36 cm on edge. This is precisely the length of the foot used to build the Minoan palaces on Crete in the second and third millennium BCE. A pint is defined as 1/8 of a gallon.
If this pint was filled with water it would weigh 1.25 Tower Pounds or exactly one Scottish or English Mercantile Pound of 6750 grains. The accuracy of this calculation leads one to consider the possibility that the Scottish Pound had been defined in antiquity as 1/64 the weight of one Minoan cubic foot of rain water.
The old saying “A pintʼs a pound the world around” would have been perfectly true and would tend to explain why even today the pint is divided into 16 “fluid” ounces.
The weight of 1/60 of this Minoan cubic foot of grain could have been used to established the weight of exactly one Troy Pound. The accuracy of this calculation and its sexagesimal nature lends credence to this possibility.
That an ancient measurement developed in Crete could reach England should not be surprising since Cornwall supplied large quantities of tin to the nations of the Mediterranean in the Bronze Age. The Minoans were a sea-faring nation and their standard of measures can be found is such far away places as Okinawa Japan.
Roland Boucher Irvine Ca. March 15, 2014