Milling Terms

If you're not familiar with milling terms you'll be amazed how many there are. We thought the words and phrases on the Daniels Mill website were lovely so we got their permission to re-use some of them here. If you really want a more exhaustive list, try the Glossary of Terms at the Mills Archive.
Great spur wheel

Main driving wheel mounted on the upright shaft, transmitting stones via the stone nuts

Crown wheel

Horizontal gear wheel mounted above the great spur wheel and often used to drive auxiliary machinery including the sack hoist

Pit wheel

The pit wheel is driven by the waterwheel and is usually on the inside of the building and has similar diameter to the waterwheel.


A device for dressing flour, employing a cylinder of cloth or latterly of silk when in a flour mill and a wire mesh when in a grist mill


The turned wooden handle for use with a Bill.

Tentering Gear

The mechanism for making fine adjustments to the gap between millstones.

Crook String

Adjusting device altering angle of shoe to regulate flow of grain from the hopper

Hursting Frame

Timber framework that supports the stones and encloses the main gearing


Hard steel tool like a double edged wedge used for dressing millstones


An open wooden funnel-like container holding grain prior to its discharge to the stones via the shoe


Wooden framework which supports hopper over stones


Tapering wooden trough taking grain from the hopper


Spindle which strikes shoe to distribute grain into eye of stones. Sometimes known as "Dandelion" or Chatterer"

Richard Goodman using a bill to dress the millstone
A bell held back by a strap weighed down by the grain in the hopper. This one is from Redbournbury Mill

So the Saying Goes

Grind to a halt

The gap between millstones can be adjusted to give control over the fineness of the grain. When the stones meet they literally grind to a halt

Damsel in distress

The damsel is a spindle that strikes the shoe to make grain drop into the eye of the millstones. There's a strap that runs across the hopper and is held down by the weight of the grain. When the grain runs out, the strap springs up and causes a bell to ring each time the damsel strikes the shoe. The ringing bell is called a 'damsel in distress' and the miller would have a bell with a different ring on each hopper so that he knew which grain had run out.