The term "Auncel" refers to an ancient measuring instrument that was prevalent during the medieval period. Generally made of iron or bronze, it consisted of a horizontal arm with a weight hanging on one end and a counterbalance on the other. The primary purpose of the auncel was to weigh or measure goods such as precious metals, coins, and agricultural produce.
The weighing procedure involved placing the item on one end of the auncel and adjusting the position of the counterbalance until equilibrium was achieved. By doing so, merchants and traders could accurately determine the weight of various commodities, thereby ensuring fair transactions and preventing fraud.
Due to its importance in commerce and trade, the auncel held great significance in medieval societies. It was commonly used in marketplaces, shops, and trade guilds to maintain transparency and accuracy in commercial transactions. Additionally, the auncel was often associated with legal proceedings, as it provided evidence in disputes related to weights and measurements.
Although the auncel gradually fell out of use with the advent of more sophisticated weighing technology, its historical significance as a symbol of trade and commerce persists. It serves as a reminder of the meticulous systems that were established to ensure just and equitable economic practices in the past.
The word "auncel" has its origins in the Latin word "ancellus", which means "servant" or "attendant". In Old French, the term "auncel" referred to a small balance used for measuring goods. This usage of the word expanded to include any object used for weighing or measuring, such as a scale or a balance. Over time, the meaning of "auncel" became more specific to refer to a type of balance or crucible used by goldsmiths and apothecaries. The term later evolved into "ancel" in Middle English and eventually into "ounce" in modern English, referring to a standard unit of weight.