Timekeeping

Clock inner workings

The word “clock” comes from the late medieval or Latin word clocca, which means “bell”.

It is impossible to decide exactly when it was that someone worked out you could tell the time by where the sun is in the sky.

However it is believed that timekeeping was really first needed when the invention of agriculture arrived, around 9000 years ago.

At this time they would have relied on observations of the sun and the moon cycles throughout the different seasons of the year to determine when to plant crops. The timing for this was much less important than today for instance, when we have to be somewhere at a certain time in a certain place.

As we have evolved, timekeeping has become much more important to us and so instruments to tell the time were invented, some good, others extremely accurate, and some others pretty useless at telling the time, but still beautiful instruments to look at.

As civilisation progressed, the need for timekeeping instruments developed. Some of the first mechanical timekeepers were being produced in the late thirteenth century, made from Iron by blacksmiths.

These clocks included a foliot escapement, a somewhat primitive device by which the speed of the train is controlled and regulated. An early example can still be found in Salisbury Cathedral, this doesn’t have a dial but merely a bell to strike the hours and call the religious to prayer.

From this, there was a demand by the wealthy for clocks in their homes, the very first being what has become known as the lantern clock. These were initially of all iron construction and were a miniaturised version of the turret clock, but incorporated a dial and single hand.

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