A report recently discovered in the "Wellington Journal, 16th May 1863- Broseley News” has been causing some debate:
"On the afternoon of Tuesday, as some of the colliers in the employ of Messrs. G. and J. Langford were engaged in getting coal near to the Ferry-field, they came upon some old workings near a fault. Here they discovered several primitive articles, used at some remote period in those ancient workings.
These included a basket, a skeleton dan, an axe, and a gaun. ........ The iron hoops which bound the gaun have long since perished. The staves, the handle, and the circular bottom, about nine inches in diameter, are intact. These articles were found between two faults, which exist in this locality. ..... "
(for a full report see "What the Papers Say" - 1863, May 16).
Was this the German equivalent of the dan described with a gaun (or Broseley “shukey” lamp) to light the way?
Illustration from ‘Das Buch vom Bergbau’ by E.H.Berninger, 1556.
A cast iron lamp found in a Broseley mine, similar to the one on the front of the dan in the illustration
The lamp is in the Brosley Local History Society collection.
Probate inventories of this area made 1650 to 1750 (‘Yeomen and Colliers in Telford’ and ‘Miners and Mariners of the Severn Gorge, B.Trinder’) support the view that a gaun was a ladle particularly used for dispensing milk, in origin one that held a gallon. Many instances of ‘pewter guns’ were found, but it was decided these were gawns not guns.
An inventory of 1687 refers to a milking gawn, one of 1707 a lading gawn (wn and un appear to be interchangeable).
A Richard Pearce, master collier of Broseley buried in 1732 had a ‘churne, milk paile and gaune’ in his brewhouse. Richard Rutter, a pauper buried 1672 had among his few belongings “a paile and littell bond gaune, an old wheele and an old chaire”.
The writer’s view is that the term ‘gaun’ came to have a wider use, for any small pot, something like a ‘can’ perhaps for grease, a mid-day drink or even explosives!