It would seem this topic of firewood and its storage has really struck a CORD with readers of The Riven Word–thanks for your feedback!
Plucky Peter Follansbee (http://pfollansbee.wordpress.com) has rounded up some great examples of woodricks and other firewood references listed in early 17th-century English inventories.
From Margaret Cash, Ed., Devon Inventories of the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries (Devon and Cornwall Record Society), 1966:
1628: EDWARD GOULD of Staverton, A Ricke of woode; £5
1609: RICHARD CLOTWORTHIE The wood and Timber in the ground and in the Reekes or else wheare; £6 13s 4d
1610: WILLIAM BOWRING 1 Rycke of wood & other wood £l 10s
From John S. Moore, editor, The Goods and Chattels of our Forefathers, 1537-1804, (London & Chichester, Phillimore), 1976:
1628: Joan Stambourne, widow of Winterbourne, 27 March 1628: the wood pille praised 3s
1635: inventory of Richard Farwelle, gentleman of Winterbourne: one wood pile preysed at £4
First of all, you gotta love the variant spellings of the word, “rick”. Brilliant. As regular readers of The Riven Word can attest, we also feel that grammar is entirely overrated.
From 3 shillings for a wood pille, to 5 pounds for a ricke of woode, that’s a significant range of cost and, presumably, amount of wood. It’s also interesting to note that there’s a distinction made in these few examples between ” ricks of wood” and “wood piles”. Until we learn otherwise, we’ll assume that a “rick of wood” is something built in the spongebob woodrick style (http://blogs.plimoth.org/rivenword/?p=2749). If this is true, then what exactly is a wood pile anyway? Does it imply an unformed heap, a well-ordered arrangement, or a little of both?
It’s great when a discussion thread CATCHES FIRE like this. Far be it from The Riven Word to be a wet blanket!
Our next blog post, coincidentally, will be a little video on making fire. We hope you can join us!
From the Trying to Get This Right Department: The term “rick” was at the center of our conversation this morning. Oh sure, we’d would have liked to have started out talking about Matt Cain’s no-no last night, but “ricks” are on our collective minds and talk trended in that direction. Mark A. helped us to further define its use and meaning. It’s important to note that the term “woodrick” doesn’t show up in the records but a “rick of (something)” does. “Woodrick” may have better flow, as the kids say, but there’s no historic justification for its use. (We here at The Riven Word really do try to sweat the details).
As you may know, ricks are most often associated with harvested corn (grains like wheat) hay, or straw, and they are often thatched. But whether it’s a rick of corn or wood, the implication is that a rick is something which is constructed rather than haphazardly tossed together. Rick may not necessarily mean a rounded pineapple-under-the-sea form, but more research is needed to verify this. To further muddle the issue, the term may be somewhat regional, used more often in the West Country than in East Anglia. Mark also made the point that ricks, like the one depicted in the 1675 Oxford example, are side by side “bavins” and other forms of wood. And like Plimoth Colony in its first years, Oxford’s wood may be used in a more communal or institutional way, as opposed to being stored for individual households. The amount of wood necessary to keep house and hearth at both Oxford and Plymouth, one might argue, could make rick-building a more viable and logical way to season and keep such large quantities of firewood. Had enough? But wait, there’s more: Ricks of wood (or wood and timber generally) may be sometimes stored in “hovels”. That’s a whole other topic! And finally, as if this wasn’t confusing enough, The Oxford English Dictionary cites a later US use of the term “rick” as:
…a measure of wood, rick typically refers to a rectangular stack 4 feet (approx. 1.2 metres) in height, 8 feet (approx. 2.4 metres) in length, and as wide as the length of the cut wood, but the precise dimensions vary from place to place.
Hmmmm…sounds like the rough dimensions of a cord of wood to me…This thing’s coming full circle!
Now that we’ve piled word upon word into a “rick of confusion”, we thank you for hopping along on our journey of discovery. Meanwhile, I may change my name to “Dick”.
Keeping co-worker Eva Lipton in our thoughts and prayers: