Thursday, 3 February 2011

A stone in weight...


Comments on the hugely overweight Dutch prisoner in the last posting had the rabbit wondering. What is the origin of stone - as in stone in weight? I really didn't know but Google means you never have to say you don't know and off went the rabbit on a voyage of exploration. References to stones usually cause much puzzlement across the North American continent - okay, you guys have pounds but not stones. A stone as mentioned below is 14 pounds and the weight (it's an Imperial weight technically) perhaps has some merit in dividing up (or something like that) large weights where the division may help get a clearer idea of what the weight represents. For example 'X weighs 13 stone 6 pounds' gives me a clearer idea of the bulk of X than 'X weighs 188 pounds' but maybe it's just a familiarity thing. Below are Imperial standards of length from Trafalgar Square (okay the topic is weight but bear with me).

Imperial Units were fixed in 1824 for use in the British Empire. Previously, English Units, a mixture of Anglo-Saxon and Roman measurements, had been in use. The US Customary system derives from the English Units. Below is a baby bottle with Imperial. Metric and US Customary units marked. The UK officially went metric in 1995 but many Imperial measures survive, for example the pint measures are the only legal ones for beer but that may be about to change.


'This is all very well', I hear you cry 'but what is the origin of stone as a measure?' The answer is that originally localities had a good sized stone (as in literally a stone) which they used to measure commodities against. Of course, the stones were of variable weight from locality to locality so in the end standardisation had to come about and duly did. In the 14th century England’s exporting of raw wool to Florence necessitated a fixed standard. In 1389 a royal statute fixed the stone of wool at 14 pounds and the sack of wool at 26 stones.


So that's the answer.


Oddly some other stone weights still exist such as the glass stone of 5 pounds but effectively a stone is always 14 pounds. By way of utterly contrived link, I was going to end with Van Morrison's And It Stoned Me but every time I tried to embed, Internet Explorer crashed. I suspect foul play! I haven't commented yet on the Egypt thing but I'm totally engaged with it and full of admiration for the courage of the anti-government protesters and contempt for Mubarak's goons. The sooner he's on a plane out of there to spend more time with his no doubt stolen offshore funds the better.


5 comments:

JoJo said...

Dude that is WAY too much math for my mathematically challenged mind to handle. I remember in the 70's when the metric system was introduced to the schools. EPIC FAIL. I remember the poor teachers trying to explain it, and we kept asking, "but what does that translate to in inches? or feet? or miles?" They gave up.

It caught on in Canada. I have to be careful when I'm driving up there b/c I forget that 60 doesn't mean 60 mph, but 40 mph.

Law Minx said...

My Dear Bunny,

I, too, am absolutely no good with sums , so I'm afraid to say you lost me completely with ' x weighs 13 stone 6 pounds'

Who IS this X, and why on EARTH does he want everyone to know how much he weighs, or is worth?!

Is he, mayhaps, an INVESTMENT BANKER??!? EEEEEEEEE!!!!

( *flees, screaming, into the sunset*)

sybil law said...

I almost always love it when citizens band together to call bullshit on a government and protest. Makes me proud, as a human.
I actually looked up the stone thing because of your last post. It's a little weird to think I'm only 7. something stone. Maybe 8. I forget, now. But it's weird.

tony said...

♪♫•*¨*•.¸¸ ♪♫•*¨*•.¸♪♫•*¨*•.¸¸.Well, they’ll stone ya when you’re trying to be so good
They’ll stone ya just a-like they said they would
They’ll stone ya when you’re tryin’ to go home
Then they’ll stone ya when you’re there all alone
But I would not feel so all alone
Everybody must get stoned

Well, they’ll stone ya when you’re walkin’ ’long the street
They’ll stone ya when you’re tryin’ to keep your seat
They’ll stone ya when you’re walkin’ on the floor
They’ll stone ya when you’re walkin’ to the door
But I would not feel so all alone
Everybody must get stoned

They’ll stone ya when you’re at the breakfast table
They’ll stone ya when you are young and able
They’ll stone ya when you’re tryin’ to make a buck
They’ll stone ya and then they’ll say, “good luck”
Tell ya what, I would not feel so all alone
Everybody must get stoned

Well, they’ll stone you and say that it’s the end
Then they’ll stone you and then they’ll come back again
They’ll stone you when you’re riding in your car
They’ll stone you when you’re playing your guitar
Yes, but I would not feel so all alone
Everybody must get stoned

Well, they’ll stone you when you walk all alone
They’ll stone you when you are walking home
They’ll stone you and then say you are brave
They’ll stone you when you are set down in your grave
But I would not feel so all alone
Everybody must get stoned♪♫•*¨*•.¸¸ ♪♫•*¨*•.¸♪♫•*¨*•.¸¸.

Petit fleur said...

Here I am.

Agreeing with Jojo and singing along with Tony...

"But I would not feeeeeel so all aloooone" ♪♫•*¨*•.¸♪♫•*¨*•.¸¸.