The first written record concerning the water mill dates back to 18 BC : it mentions the mill built by Mithridate in his Cabire palace, close to the Black Sea.
But this invention was only developed in the Middle Ages due to the death of slavery and to the expansion of cities. At the time, only lords could build mills and they obliged peasants to grind their wheat in the mill in exchange for a tax. A new increase of the number of mills took place after the French Revolution and particularly in the XIXth century when each village, and sometimes each family, wanted to have their own mill.
But the industrial revolution and the rural exodus were disastrous for the millers in the fifties. Nowadays, only few mills remain in working order but organisations have been created to renovate and safeguard this part of our cultural heritage. Each mill is indeed unique. On one hand, the mechanism is the same : an intake of water, a horizontal or vertical millwheel which drives one or several millstones but, on the other hand, the history, the folklore and the techniques differ from one mill to another.
: mill, water, millwheel, millstone, heritage, hydraulic power