The Sartorial Garden

The Rustic Beauty of Antique Stone Troughs

Hand carved from a single block of stone, these old farming troughs have been in existence for many thousands of years. There is no real way to date them however a very worn and weathered trough can give some indication of age – but only then to indicate if it is old or really old!

The industrial casting of iron began in England in the early to mid 1800’s. It was about this time that the cast iron troughs started to emerge and replace the need for “tedious cutting and chipping out” stone. Soon after, the making of these hand carved troughs began to disappear. So most of our antique troughs are at least 150 years old and many much older.

Antique stone troughs were made for many reasons but most were used for feeding and watering livestock. The larger troughs were used for horses, as shown above, and the smaller troughs were used for the shorter legged animals such as sheep and pigs.

Typically, troughs were found along the edges of farming fields or property lines. They could also be found in the enclosures attached to barns where they held water for over-wintering cattle. Many troughs were set into field walls so that they could serve stock in two fields; these often had a sandstone divider or bars across the middle.

Troughs could also be found alongside roads and well-traveled paths, often fed by a natural stream or by a piped supply. Roadside troughs would have served both moving stock and horses on a long journey.

Antique stone troughs were carved in many shapes, the most common being a rectangular shape as shown above.

The round style of troughs was mostly used as a ‘pestle and mortar’ for crushing grain or fruit to pulp or flour.  They could also be used as food or olive oil storage, or even laundry tubs!

Centered in the interior courtyard of Fountains Abbey in England is a large, very old and well-used circular stone trough. It’s thought that this round trough was used as a washing tub by the Abbey’s monks.

The ‘D’ shaped troughs were used at water wells for collection of water.

Nowadays these beautiful rustic antique stone troughs are purchased for use as garden features or planters, and can be designed into elegant water fountains.

These wonderful antique stone relics live on for centuries becoming more beautiful over time. When you next cast a glance at an old farm trough in England, imagine that it might have been carved during the Tudor dynasty or even during the Byzantine empire!

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