Our antique and hand-made reproductions (based on our collection and researched designs) reflect the regional differences found in bakestones from Wales, Scotland, Ireland and England. With over thirty years collecting, researching and selling baking irons, we have come across many regional variations, designs and embellishments, however there are only really two ‘basic’ designs, (excluding stands, pots and other non-specific griddle types) the flat bakestone or the hanging bakestone. The shape and design of the handle is what most frequently changes, while the shape and design of the baking plate itself various less frequently (in thickness and from oval, to round, to lozenge shape etc.).
Regional Differences In Bakestones
Griddles and Bakestones were made locally in a number of different shapes and designs, (made from cast or wrought iron – or after the late 1800s in mild steel) depending on the local raw materials, the main foods cooked and the cooking fuel available. Before the 1800s poor quality coal and peat fires (Wales and Ireland) which produced a lot of thick smoke (and sometimes not much heat) were not good to cook from height over and therefore the regional designs of baking irons seen reflect this by being used directly over the fire – the flat Welsh Bakestone and Long-handled Griddle. These were very often used on top of ‘fire dogs’ or wrought iron stands, placed either over the open fire or next to it, depending at what stage the fire was at.
While the cooking fuels of glowing charcoal, good quality coal and wood fires (Scotland and England) produced far less smoke (and more heat) and so baking irons and bakestones were designed to be suspended at height over the fire – the Scottish Girdle and English Bakestone. The bakestones were hung using an eye from hooks or directly from the ‘fire jack’, also known as a trammel or pot-hook, or from a more elaborate wrought iron pot-sway or pot-crane. This also meant other hanging cooking pots (with a similar hanging design) could be easily interchanged over the fire.
By the 1800s and early 1900s better quality fuel available to most places, coupled with better designs of cooking pots, pans and baking irons, from new industrial techniques, (with better trade and greater migration of people from regions) saw the beginnings of a ‘standardisation’ of cooking pots, pans and baking irons; using either the hanging design with a half-moon collapsible handle, over the fire, or the flat long-handled griddles on the new ‘cooking range’.
Identifying The Regional Designs
The most easily identifiable region of a particular bakestone comes from Wales, this classic design is closest to the old stone shape used for thousands of years to cook on. It was cast in a single flat mould from molten iron with no separate handle, (the handle shape was designed into the mould). While bakestones from Scotland, Ireland and England (and also found in Wales) all have similar design features. We have sourced original Bakestones and old photos of bakestones from these three regions and most of these have a separate cast iron plate to cook on with a half-moon shaped handle separately riveted on, with a round eye at the top, to hang the bakestone from.
The Scottish and Irish bakestones we have seen and sourced are near identical, except for some individual flourishes by the maker or blacksmith, they are normally utilitarian and functional in shape with a large eye to hang from. While the English bakestones tend to have more embellishments, for example the half-moon handle is normally more shaped and often there is a smaller eye to hang the bakestone over the fire. What can also be said, because of the migration of people and trade in the industrial revolution, regional specific bakestones can be found all over Britain and Ireland and in all regions the simple, traditional long-handled griddle plate is also to be found.