Logistics at the construction site Standing in front of medieval buildings, we often ask ourselves: How did builders move heavy blocks, mortars, beams, and lead plates all those hundreds of years ago? How did they get the material to such great heights?
Primitive devices for single persons, such as containers, existed, with which construction workers transported mortar. Heavier materials were carried by two men using two parallel spars with cross boards.
The wheel was of course well-known. Wheelbarrows were used from the twelfth century on. Two- or four-wheeled carts, usually pulled by mules or oxen, were also used. These were commemorated in the towers of Laon Cathedral.
Replica of a pedal wheel - in front of the Church of St. Mary, Wismar
For the goods lift, a fixed role and different cranes, for example gallows cranes, were used. The loads were lifted by means of rope and reel, either by reels or tricycles in which people or animals ran. All of these devices were made of wood.
The stone tong was made of iron, a useful device for lifting cuboids. Two S-shaped arms closed as soon as the rope was tightened, clamping the stone. Even today in the walls of medieval buildings we can occasionally see the small holes in the middle of the blocks in which the tips of the pliers arms were placed.
Despite all these means of transport - human workers bore the brunt, both on the ground and on the rickety scaffolding. Construction work was tough, then as it is now.
Translation: Erik Eising (MA)