Ancient windmills

On every hilltop stands a windmill, bringing a bygone age to the present..

Moulin de Haute Benauge, Gornac, constructed in 1601, and restored in 1975, now a museum.
Moulin de Haute Benauge, Gornac, constructed in 1601, and restored in 1975, now a museum.

Just as every other day, the miller hitched his donkey to the tail pole, and together they walked a quarter circle around the base of the towermill, and in doing so, the whole roof, or cap of the towermill rotated. Soon the sails caught the wind, the wood creaked, and grated, then slowly the sail frames started to move. Their speed increased, and the miller was happy to see the regular, swiftly turning sails. Today would be a good day.

He untied his donkey, led her to open grassland, and let her graze. Turning back, he entered the mill, humped a sack of wheat grain onto his shoulder, and climbed the narrow, steep steps up to the trestle. Here, he slit open the sack, and poured grain into the hopper, where it would be gently shaken down the funnel into the centre hole of two great, heavy stone grinders. Above him the wooden gears turned the stones, as they were also turned by the windshaft that exited the cap, and attached to the sails, transmitted their power back to the gears.

And so the day moved as though by clockwork. The sails rhythmically whooshed outside, the gears groaned, and grain transformed into flour, trickling down into hessian sacks on the floor below.

Steps, millstone and gearpost inside a ruined windmill.
Steps, millstone and gearpost inside a ruined windmill.

A little history

It is believed that the first european windmill was constructed in the north of France, in 12th century, probably introduced by crusaders who had seen the invention in the Orient, having been used there since 9th century. The first mills were simple gears balanced on a post, but by 14th century, there was a new design, the tower mill, that incorporated a solid building around the mill post, and a cap (roof) that could be rotated, enabling the sails to catch the wind in every direction, thus being much more efficient. This was a popular source of power up until the 19th century.

Judging by the numerous ancient windmills in L’Entre Deux Mers, the winds are constant, and I am reminded of the beauty, and grace of wind energy.

References: Wikipedia and L’Office de Tourism de L’Entre Deux Mers.

13 thoughts on “Ancient windmills

  1. This filled my mind with the daily routine of the long ago farmer with his wheat, donkey, and windmill. Your description of the history was well researched and informative. Thank you!

    The early 1200’s is such an ancient time. This reminds me of Don Quixote “battling imaginary demons” while really “tilting windmills” due to his poor eye sight! I always like Cervantes’ story with sweet Dulcinea, his heroine just a bar maid.
    Did you ever hear the Glenn Campbell song, “Windmills of my Mind?” It is a sweet country song. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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