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Etymology of words for Locks and Keys:—"Klu," the Greco-Italian base, to lock (Fick), from the Sanskrit "Klu," to move (Benfey and Monier Williams); "Klavi," key (Fick); "κλϵὶς," Greek, a key; "κλϵὶστρον," Greek, a bolt or bar; "Claustrum," Latin, a lock, bar, or bolt; "Claudo," Latin, to close or shut; "Clausum," Latin, an enclosed space; "Clausura," Latin, a castle; "Clavis," Latin, a key; "Clavus," Latin, a nail; "Clef," French, a key; "Clou," French, a nail; "Clo," Gaelic, a nail, pin, or peg; "Clo," Irish, a nail or pin; "Glas," Irish, a lock; "Clo," Welsh, a lock; "Clar," Bourguignon, a key; "Clau," French provincial, a key; "Clav," old Spanish, a key; "Chiave," Italian, a key; "Chave," Portuguese, a key; "Close," English, to shut. From the same root, "Klu," to move, comes also "Sklu" (Skeat), from which is derived the Teutonic "Slut," to shut, and from thence the Dutch "Slot," a lock, and also a castle, from "Sluiten," to shut; old Friesic "Slot," from "Sluta," to shut; Low German "Slot." Thus also the English provincial word "Slot," a bolt; "Schloss," German, a lock, and also a castle; "Schlüssel," German, a key. From the Latin "Sero," to put, comes "Sera," Latin, a movable bar or bolt; "Serrure," French, a lock; "Serratura," Italian, a lock. The French word "Verrou," a bolt; Wallon "Verou" or "Ferou;" Bourguignon "Varullo;" Provincial "Verroth," "Berroth," and "Ferroth;" Portuguese "Ferrolho." The forms in "f" appear to indicate a derivation from the Latin "ferrum," iron. The English word "Lock" is derived from the Teutonic base, "Luck," to lock (Fick); "Loc," Anglo-Saxon, a lock; "Lock," Friesic, a lock; "Lukke," Danish, a lock; "Loca," Icelandic, a lock or latch, or the lid of a chest; "Lock," Swedish, a lid; "Loke," Wallon; "Luycke," Flemish; "Loquet," French, a catch. In Early English it was pronounced "loke" (Skeat). The English word "Latch" is probably the same as the Danish "Laas," a lock; "Las," Swedish, a lock; "Luchetto," Italian, a latch. Skeat derives it from the Anglo-Saxon word "lœccan," to seize; in Early English it was pronounced "Lacche," and he suggests the probability of its being derived from the Latin word "Laqueus," a snare, but this is doubtful. "Hasp," English, is derived from the Teutonic base, "Hapsa;" "Hæpsa," Anglo-Saxon; "Hespa," Icelandic; "Haspe," Danish; "Haspe," Swedish; "Haspe," German. "Moraillon," the French word for "hasp," is of uncertain origin, but Littré supposes it to be derived from the provincial "Mor," a muzzle, probably the French word "Mors," a bit; "Morsum," Latin, a bit or a little piece; "Morsus," Latin, a bite, as well as the English "Muzzle" and "Nozzle," are all derived from the same root. "Clef bénarde," a key that is not piped (forée) (Hamilton and Legros) or furnished with grooves, and which can be opened from both sides, is from "Bernard," which in old French signifies a fool, hence a "clef bernarde" or "bénarde" is an inferior kind of key (Littré). The English word "Key" was derived from the Anglo-Saxon "Cæg" by the change of "g" into "y;" old Friesic "Kai" and "Kei." The English word "Bolt," which is now applied to the most primitive form of the mechanism, and probably the one from which the others took their origin, appears to have been obtained from the Anglo-Saxon word "Bolt," a catapult. Thus we have the Danish "Bolt," an iron pin; "Bout," Dutch, a bolt or pin; "Bolz," German, and it appears to have been adopted from its resemblance to the bolt or arrow used with the catapult. Crabb ('Technical Dictionary of Arts and Sciences') thinks it comes from the Latin "Pello," to drive, and the Greek "Ballo," to cast, and that it has thus been applied to anything shooting, as a bolt of a door, or a bird bolt, whilst Skeat supposes it to have been named like "bolster" from its roundness.

The word "Padlock" is important in relation to our subject. This kind of lock is especially suitable as a fastening for baskets and saddle bags; being a hanging lock, less liable to injury from knocks than a fixed lock, it is used in preference to this day for travelling purposes. The word "Pad" is a provincial Norfolk word used for "Pannier" (Halliwell and Skeat). It hangs about all words relating to early modes of travelling, thus we have, "Pad," a stuffed saddle for carrying a pannier on horseback; "Pad-nag," a road horse; "Pad," a thief on the high road; "Pad," Dutch, a path, "Pæth," Anglo-Saxon, a path; "Pfad," German, a path, which latter English word is also itself cognate with pad; "Pod," a bag carried on horseback; "Pedlar," a travelling hawker. The word "Padlock" therefore means "Road lock," and it is significant in relation to the way in which padlocks of like form may have become distributed over wide areas in early times. The French word "Cadenas," a padlock, comes from the Latin "Catena," a chain, and the connection is obvious; "Catenaccio," Italian; "Candado" and "Cadena," Spanish; "Cadenat," French provincial; Berry "Chadaine," a cord; Picard "Cagne" and "Caine;" hence also the French word "Chaîne," and the English "Chain."


We see from this, that, as is usual in like cases, the words have followed lines of their own, and afford but little evidence of the forms of the objects to which they have been applied, excepting in so far that the common word "Klu" or "Clo" for lock and pin, and its connection with the base "Klu," to move, implies that the earliest form consisted of a movable bolt. But, in any case, whether we take the Latin word "Sero", to put, or the Sanskrit "Klu," to move, as independent origins of words for locks, we are carried back to a time when it consisted of a simple bar or bolt put up or slipped through staples to close a door. The passage in the 'Odyssey,' so often quoted in relation to the construction of Greek door locks, does not in reality throw much light upon the subject so long as it is unassisted by archæological discoveries. It has been variously translated,[1] and we are left very much to conjecture for the forms of the most primitive kinds of locks which preceded those of which the relics are to be found in our collections of antiquities. It is noteworthy, however, that the earliest vestiges of apparatus connected with door fastenings in metal, that are discovered, consist of keys, which leads to the inference that the locks themselves may have been made of wood, and have therefore perished. But we have survivals of primitive wooden locks in use at the present time in different countries, which show us, with great probability, the uses to which the keys were put, and it is to these that we must turn in any attempt to trace back the history of the mechanism from the commencement. The process is one, the merits and demerits of which have been too often discussed to need comment here. In the absence of direct archæological evidence we have no alternative but to avail ourselves of survivals as far as possible. The materials, however, in the case of locks are so abundant that it will not be necessary to tax our imagination unduly in order to fill in the links that are found wanting.

Of the bar, whether of wood or iron, used for fastening up the door on the inside, little need be said, nor are we at a loss for a commencement in the common door bolt. Figs. 2 and 3, Plate I., represent the inside view and section of a wooden bolt now in use on barns and outhouses at Gastein, in Austria, and like many of the ordinary appliances which in most countries are now made of metal, it is there constructed entirely of wood, and is such a bolt as might have been used in the most primitive state of society. It is intended to open from the outside, where the handle, consisting of a flat oblong piece of wood (fig. 3, a, Plate I.), communicates, by means of a neck of wood, with the bolt b on the inside, and when shoved home to fasten the door, the neck moves along a slit in the door shown by the dotted line, fig. 2, c c, Plate I. Such a bolt can of course be opened by any one whether from within or without, and it has the further insecurity of being liable to be forced open accidentally by anything that might catch the handle, there being no fastening within to keep it securely in its place when shut. The simplest contrivance for remedying this latter defect would be to insert a peg or pin into the bolt, which might be left hanging by a string fastened to a staple when the door is open, and when bolted, inserted vertically into a hole in the top of the bolt in front of the upright guide or staple through which the bolt slides, as represented in figs. 4 and 5, Plate I., and it could be got at from without through a hole in the door. By this means the bolt would be kept securely in its place when shut, but it would require two motions both in opening and shutting the door.

Anything calculated to save time in a process of such ordinary occurrence as the opening and shutting of a door would be speedily adopted, and it would soon be found that by fixing the pin vertically in a slide, so as to fall freely, and making the lower end smooth, so as to slide along the upper surface of the bolt as the latter was drawn back, it might easily be so contrived that when shut it should fall by its own weight into the hole in the bolt, as represented in figs. 6, 7, 8, Plate I.; in the former of which it is shown open, and in fig. 7, shut, with the pin down in the hole, so as to secure it from being drawn back until the pin is raised, which might be done from the outside by means of a hole in the door, through which the string might be made to pass, as shown in the section, fig. 8. By this contrivance the bolt would only require one motion to shut it securely, and it might also be placed in the inside; but to open it again two motions would be necessary as before.

Still, however, the fastening would be accessible to everyone, and in a condition of society in which property must always have been insecure, it would become a great desideratum to construct a bolt which could be drawn back only by the use of a key, which the owner might carry about with him, and thereby secure his goods and chattels whilst he himself was absent in the fields, or in the hunting grounds. So necessary a requirement of every day life must have forced itself upon the notice of the greater part of mankind, and it is not surprising, therefore, to find that this stage of the development of the lock forms the point of trifurcation of three separate branches of improvement. Two of these are of the nature of tumbler locks, and consist of apparatus for raising the pin or pins by which the bolt is secured when they fall into the holes provided for them on the upper surface of it. It was for this reason that they were termed tumblers, because they tumble into the holes when the lock is closed. The third branch led off in another direction.

In order that the mind may not wander from the lines of continuity whilst I treat each of these three branches separately, I shall class them as A, B, and C in the diagrams, at the same time allowing the numbers of the figures to run on continuously from this point of departure. By this means I shall be best able to show the ramifications into which this mechanism, like all similar contrivances to which these papers relate, separate as they increase in complexity.

The common door bolt (figs. 2 and 3, Plate I.) having continued to be available as an inside fastening, in addition to more complex contrivances for securing doors, has continued to be universally employed up to the present time, and may be compared in nature to those fossil species, which, having never become unsuited to their environment, have survived throughout successive geological periods, whilst the forms represented in figs. 4 to 8, Plate I., being makeshifts, have disappeared as soon as they were superseded, and thus they constitute the "missing links" of our developmental series.

The two great desiderata in the stage of the lock that we are now considering were security and rapidity, both of which must have forced themselves on the notice of the primeval householder each time he crossed the threshold of his door. I shall begin with branch A in which security only appears to have been aimed at, and then proceed to those in which security and rapidity were combined. The first idea which suggested itself was to put a bolt in a box, so that no one could get at it to lift the tumbler without a key especially adapted to enter the box and raise it, but as long as only one tumbler was used it must have been very easy to pick such a lock by raising the tumbler with any sharp-pointed instrument that might be introduced into the hole. By using two tumblers, it would be impossible to raise them both at once, except by a key constructed with projections or teeth to fit into notches or holes in the tumblers, which teeth must necessarily be at the same distance apart as the notches, and as the tumblers were hidden in the box, no one unacquainted with the contrivance could make a key to fit the lock, which by this means afforded to some extent the security that was requisite.

Scandinavia appears to have been the headquarters of this class of locks, or at any rate the part of the world in which they have chiefly survived at the present time; one of the simplest of which is represented in figs. 9A, 10A, and 11A, Plate I., from the Faroe Islands. e is the wooden block into which is cut a horizontal groove for the bolt a, and two vertical grooves in which the pins or tumblers, d d, play, and when the bolt is shut to, they fall of their own accord into the holes f f. The key, c, is passed horizontally into another groove cut for it in the block, above and parallel to the one for the bolt. Two notches are cut in the tumblers to enable the key to pass, and when pressed in horizontally as far as it will go, the teeth of the key, b b, coincide exactly with the notches in the tumblers, so that when the key is afterwards raised vertically, it raises the tumblers, by means of the notches, out of the holes, f f, on the upper surface of the bolt, and the bolt can then be drawn out by the hand. It will be seen that this lock requires as many motions as the bolt (figs. 6, 7, and 8, Plate I.). It requires only one motion to shut it, when the two tumblers fall into the holes and keep it fast, but to open it, it is necessary to use both hands, one to raise the key and the other to draw out the bolt. It may therefore be termed for distinction a hand-drawn lock. No time is saved by this process, but the lock, for such we must now begin to call it rather than bolt, is rendered more secure. Different kinds of these locks, but all on the same principle, are in use in out of the way parts of Scotland. Figs. 12A to 17A, Plate I., similar to the last but having a slight difference in the shape of the notches, is a Scotch wooden lock in the Patent Museum at South Kensington, a facsimile of which is in my collection. Figs. 18A to 22A, Plate II., is another, also in the Patent Museum, in which three tumblers instead of two are raised by the same key, as shown in the sections, figs. 21A and 22A, Plate II. Mr. Romilly Allen, who has written a paper on Scotch tumbler locks in the 2nd volume, New Series, of the 'Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland,' figures several others of the same class. One from North Ronaldsay has four tumblers in line; another from the Faroe Islands has three tumblers in line; another from Snizort, in Skye, has six tumblers working independently of each other but raised with the same key, and consists simply of two ordinary locks put face to face with the bolt between them; another from Harris is still more complicated in its construction, and is formed by five tumblers in line with two holes running through the whole of them, and the key has two limbs, one for each line of holes.

It is unnecessary for my present purpose to describe all these locks in detail. Though varying in character they are all constructed on one principle. As with the more complicated contrivances in metal, hereafter noticed, variety is an element of security, the greater the variety, the greater the difficulty of making a key which will fit them all; and this is another point in which the processes of the arts resemble the processes of nature, variety adapts the mechanism to a wider sphere of utility, and by encouraging change, promotes improvement. In the one, as in the other, variation is a necessary element of progress.

I see no reason to suppose that this class of locks was confined to Scotland or to Scandinavia. They may probably have existed in other parts of Europe, where, being made entirely of wood, they have long since decayed, and their representations may have survived only on the outskirts of civilisation. The law of geographical distribution is inexorable—nothing can make the North of Scotland or of Norway or the West of Ireland centres of the arts, and it is to such places we must look for the survival of primitive contrivances. A precisely similar key to those here described, but of iron, was found with Roman remains near Gloucester, and is figured in Lysons's 'Magna Britannia,' vol. ii., Plate 11, showing that a wooden lock of this kind must have been in use in England at that time. Figs. 23A to 25A, Plate II., is a similar lock used in Norway, and copied by me from a specimen in the Hazilius Museum at Stockholm.[2] Figs. 26 to 28A, Plate II., is another in the Museum at Kew Gardens, copied by permission of Sir Joseph Hooker; it was made by the negroes in Jamaica. Figs. 29A to 31A, Plate II., is a similar one from British Guiana, in the Christy Collection. One is tempted by the presence of these locks in the West Indies to suppose that they may have been carried by the negroes from their African homes, and the resemblance commonly attributed to them to the Egyptian wooden lock, constructed on nearly the same principle, might lead to the inference that they may have passed in that way to the West Indies; but it will be seen hereafter that they differ in detail from the Egyptian pin-locks. They are of the Scotch or Scandinavian type, and in all probability were imported into the New World by Scotchmen rather than negroes.

It is now necessary to return to figs. 6 and 7, Plate I., which represent the bolt with the single pin or tumbler, in order to trace the origin and development of Class B. Whilst in Scandinavia and the north of Europe, the key was applied to the upper part of the tumblers, above the bolt, as shown in the preceding examples of the hand-drawn lock; in Egypt, Asia, and probably in parts of Europe also, another system combining rapidity with security was introduced. A key with a single tooth was inserted beneath the bolt, and by raising the tooth vertically and applying it to the lower end of the tumbler, the latter was pressed out of the hole and raised clear of the bolt, and the tooth occupying its place in the hole, the key itself was made to hook back the bolt, so that the whole operation was performed with one hand holding the key. Fig. 9B, Plate II., represents this kind of lock, which may be termed a key-drawn, as distinct from a hand-drawn lock. As with the tumbler locks of the north of Europe so with the southern variety, security was obtained by multiplying the number of tumblers and varying their position. Figs. 10 to 12B, Plate II., are drawings of a wooden pin-lock and key obtained by myself in Egypt, which is of the kind habitually in use there at the present time. It has two tumblers in line. In fig. 10B the lock is represented with the key, A, in it and the tumblers raised, preparatory to drawing the bolt B. Fig. 11B is the key, and in fig. 12B the lock is shown shut, with the tumblers down and the key lowered preparatory to withdrawing it from the lock. Mr. Romilly Allen, in the paper already referred to, gives an illustration of one precisely similar which he obtained in Persia. Figs. 13B and 14B, Plate III., shows an exactly similar lock in the India Museum, obtained by Sir Douglas Forsyth at Yarkand, a facsimile of which is in my collection. This kind of lock is also used in Turkey; their identity throughout the region here spoken of is such as to leave no doubt of their having been copied from one another, and indicates the area of their distribution, about which something will be said further on.

It appears doubtful whether or not this pin-lock was known to the ancient Egyptians. Rhind[3] states that he discovered one on a door in the interior of an ancient Egyptian tomb, but its date, from the description given in the text, appears doubtful. The tomb had certainly been opened in Roman times, if not later. Denon also says that he saw one sculptured in the Temple of Carnac, but he took no drawing of it, and the evidence of the existence of this kind of lock in ancient Egyptian times certainly requires confirmation.[4] Sir Gardner Wilkinson is of opinion that the earliest example of a key with pins such as might be used with the pin-lock, is of the Roman period, in the reign of Trajan, A.D. 90, and the earliest known mention of any key at all is in the third chapter of Judges, viz., 1336 B.C.[5] If the pin-lock was in use in ancient Egypt it was certainly exceptional, as all the sculptures represent the doors as being fastened by simple bolts.

Whether the modern Egyptian lock is a survival of an ancient Egyptian form, or whether it is of Roman origin, it is certain, from the relics of Roman bronze and iron keys and bolts found in various parts of Europe, that the Roman lock was constructed on the same principle. Figs. 15B to 20B, Plate III., may be taken as illustrations of the Roman lock when put together. It is a reproduction from original fragments preserved in the Museum at Mainz. Fig. 20B is the bronze key; it has four teeth which, besides being at variable distances apart, are also of different forms, some being triangular and others square. Fig. 19B is the bronze bolt, made with apertures to fit the key, and also to admit of similarly formed tumblers, shown in fig. 18B. The way in which these are put together is represented in the section of the lock, figs. 16B and 17B. The key a is put into the keyhole d, fig. 15B, with the bar of the key containing the teeth in a vertical position, as represented by the dotted line a, fig. 16B. It is then turned round, and the teeth brought up beneath the bolt b. When pressed up vertically, the tumblers are driven up out of the bolt, and replaced by the teeth of the key, which hold the bolt so that it can be forced back by moving the key to the right. When the bolt is withdrawn, it releases the hasp e, fig. 15B. Of such hasps, fig. 21B is a drawing of an original in my collection, found at Hetternheim. By reference to fig. 16B, it will be seen that the tumblers, f f, are vertical, and would therefore fall into their places in the bolt, like those of the Egyptian and Scandinavian specimens; but being so small, and being probably made of wood, their weight would be insufficient to secure certainty of action, if dependent on weight alone; they are therefore pressed down by a flat plate h, figs. 16B and 17B, acting under the influence of a spring g, figs. 16B and 17B. This is an important addition, for it is evident that as soon as the spring comes into use, the tumblers can easily be made to press into the bolt horizontally, by means of a spring at the side, thereby enabling the lock to be used in any position in which it may be required; and there seems to be little doubt that some of the bolts and tumblers were so constructed in Roman locks. The existence of a spring in Roman locks is determined by the discovery of one with the spring in it, which is figured in M. Liger's work 'La Ferronnerie.'[6]

The teeth of the key of the Roman lock described above, it will be seen, are made to fit exactly the holes in the bolt; and this may perhaps have served to give the first idea of the ward system, which was so greatly depended upon for security in later times; but the same fallacy attaches to the use of these fitting teeth which attached to the ward system generally, for it is evident that any form of tooth small enough to go into the holes, and of the proper length, would have sufficed to lift the tumblers and draw the bolt; and accordingly we find that, in the Roman key usually discovered, the teeth are merely round pins, and have no particular form given to them for fitting purposes.

The distribution of this class of lock may be determined by the localities in which the keys and bolts have been found. Fig. 22B, Plate III., is a bronze bolt of this description in my collection, from Oppenheim, and obtained by me at Mayence. Fig. 23B, Plate III., is another of bronze, also in my collection, from Heddernheim. Similar ones have been found repeatedly in France, Italy, Germany, Switzerland, and England. The keys with teeth are even more widely distributed, and have been found in all those countries which have been occupied by the Romans. Fig. 24B, Plate III., is a large iron key of this description in my collection, found in the Rhine, at Mayence. The earliest known example of a key with teeth, according to M. Liger, is one represented on a coin of the Papia family, dating about the end of the 2nd century B.C.[7]

But the ward system appears to have developed itself still further in connection with these locks and before the revolving key was introduced. Fig. 25B, Plate III., is a specimen of a class of keys frequently discovered with Roman remains, in which a plate is attached at right angles to the pins. This plate is pierced with slits of various forms, apparently intended to admit of the passage of wards placed vertically beneath the bolt to prevent any but the proper key from rising to lift the tumblers. The direction in which these keys were raised is shown by the flat part of the handle of the key being always at right angles to the pins and in the same plane as the ward plate.

Besides the bolts with several tumbler holes in them, others adapted for single tumblers have been discovered. Of these fig. 26B, Plate III., drawn from M. Liger'swork, and found in the forest of Compiègne, is an example, and fig. 27B, Plate III., from the same work, and found at Nonfous, in Switzerland (Bonstetten) is a key adapted to fit such a bolt.

Other iron keys are found in England and France, the application of which is more doubtful. They are found chiefly in connection with Celtic remains, and by some have been supposed to be keys for opening doors fastened with a simple latch on the inside.[8] Such latches were certainly employed amongst the earliest systems of door-fastenings, and the keys in question might have served the purpose of opening them, but they might also have been used to open locks with a single wooden tumbler; the simpler kinds resemble somewhat our modern pick-locks, of which fig. 28B, Plate III., is a specimen. Fig. 29B, Plate III., in my collection is from a Germano-Roman tomb near Niderolm, and was obtained at Mayence; its possible use, in the manner represented in fig. 9B, Plate II., is obvious. Figs. 30B and 31B, Plate III., are two Anglo-Saxon keys found at Sarr, in Kent.[9] Figs. 32B, 33B, Plate III., are two keys of the Iron Age from Bornholm, in the Baltic,[10] attributed by M. Videl to the 3rd or 4th century of our era. Fig. 34B, Plate IV., is a somewhat similar one from Caerwent, in Wales.[11] It has a flat handle and appears to be adapted to be pressed downwards as if for opening a latch. Figs. 35B, 36B, Plate IV., are nearly similar ones, and were discovered in the Roman Villa at Hartlip, in Kent.[12]

Figs. 37B and 38B, Plate IV., are from drawings taken by me in the Musée de Saint Germain, and were found at St. Pierre-en-Chastre, Oise; others are figured inM. Liger's 'La Ferronnerie.'[13] Fig. 39B, Plate IV., is in the British Museum, and was found within the entrenchments at Spettisbury, near Blandford; it was presented to the Museum by Mr. J. Y. Akerman. Figs. 40B and 41B, Plate IV., are two found by me in pits in the interior of Mount Caburn Camp, near Lewes.[14]Fig. 41B is of large size, 8 inches in length, and sickle-shaped. All the objects discovered in this camp proved it to be of the late Celtic period; the tin coins found associated with these remains, the bone combs, pottery, and other objects belong to an age anterior to the Roman conquest. Fig. 42B, Plate IV., is a similar one found by Mr. Park Harrison in similar pits in the neighbouring camp of Cissbury,[15] in Sussex, which has been shown to have been occupied by people of the same age as Mount Caburn, viz.: the late Celtic period. It will be seen that some of these keys, all of which are of iron, have a small return or pin at the end, which is adapted to fit into a hole, and in the Cissbury specimen this end is flattened, as if to enable it to fit an aperture of special dimensions.

But for whatever purpose these crooked keys were used, whether as latch-keys, as keys for single-tumbler pins, or as hooks to pull back a plain iron or wooden bolt, the large size of some of them, especially that from Caburn, fig. 41B, and sickle shape, corresponds with remarkable accuracy to the description of a Greek key given by Eustathius, and quoted in Parkhurst's 'Hebrew Lexicon.' He says that they were "in the shape of a sickle, and that not being easily carried in the hand on account of their inconvenient form they were carried on the shoulder, as we see our reapers carry on their shoulders at this day their sickles, joined and tied together." Callimachus, in his hymn to Ceres, says that the goddess, having assumed the form of Nicippe, her priests carried a key, κατωμαδιος, that is, fit to be borne on the shoulder.[16] This also explains, I presume, the passage in Isaiah, "and the key of the House of David will I lay upon his shoulder; so he shall open, and none shall shut; and he shall shut, and none shall open."[17] It will be seen that the specimen found by me in Mount Caburn corresponds exactly with the description given in the above quotations, the curved portion of the key being 7¼ inches in diameter, a bundle of them tied together would exactly fit the shoulder, as represented in fig. 43B, Plate IV. As we know from the researches of Mr. Evans and others that imitations of the coins of Greece spread throughout Gaul and Britain, some of which, of very debased form and cast in tin, were found in the camp at Caburn in association with the sickle-shaped keys, and others have been found in connection with relics of the same period elsewhere, there is no inherent improbability in the supposition that the keys may have followed a like route.[18]Should further discoveries tend to confirm this connection, it would be a remarkable testimony to the value of archæological investigation if the well-known passage in the 'Odyssey' about the key of Penelope were to find its definite interpretation on the shores of Sussex.[19]


We must now return to fig. 2, Plate I., in order to trace the third class, C, of locks and padlocks fastening with a spring catch. It seems probable that fixed locks may have preceded hanging ones, although, on the other hand, the want of some contrivance for securing property must have been felt in connection with saddle-bags, panniers, and other appliances of nomadic life, and in a condition of society which preceded the use of fixed abodes. Be this as it may, it seems possible to trace the employment of spring locks by means of survivals from the common door-bolt.

The origin of the spring padlock, in the present state of my knowledge on the subject, is doubtful. The sequence which I here assume is only tentative, and it is probable that connecting links with more primitive contrivances may be supplied hereafter. The defect of the common bolt, as I have already shown, was its insecurity as an outside fastening; in fact it afforded no security at all, and to remedy this defect and make it inaccessible, except by means of a key, several different contrivances appear from the first to have suggested themselves; amongst others, one of the simplest was adopted in connection with the Scandinavian bolt, a specimen of which, probably a modern survival of an ancient form, was exhibited in the Scandinavian Section of the Exhibition of 1867, and is figured inM. Liger's work.[20] We must suppose the handle in fig. 2, Plate I., and its neck connecting it with the bolt, to be removed, leaving only the slit in the door along which the neck of the handle slid, and that a similar slit was made in the bolt also. The key, which was of iron, was T-shaped; it was inserted from the outside through the slit in the door, and in the bolt, with the arms of the T in a horizontal plane; it then received a quarter turn so that the arms of the T were brought into a vertical plane, and it was then pulled back, when the returns of the T were made to fit into two holes provided for them on either side of the slit in the bolt, on the inside, figs. 1C and 2C, Plate IV. By this means the key obtained a grip of the bolt, and it was only necessary to press it to one side in order to shoot it. This bolt, which is taken from M. Liger's work, so closely resembles the next one to be described, that if he had been a less careful writer one might suppose that it was the same lock, and that he had omitted to represent the spring which alone constitutes the improvement shown in figs. 3C, 4C, and 5C, Plate IV., which was presented to me by Dr. Engelhardt, at Copenhagen. It is still in use on barn and outhouse doors in Norway, and was first brought to notice by Professor O. Rygh, of Christiania. The key, which is of the same form as the last, enters the slit in the same manner, and after receiving the quarter turn is pressed home into the holes on the inside surface of the bolt like the last. In so doing, when firmly pulled back, it presses down a straight flat steel spring, the fixed end of which is attached to the door between it and the bolt, and the free end of which, when released, catches in a notch in the bolt so as to keep it securely in its place when shut. When the free end of this spring is pressed down by the returns of the key, it clears the edges of the notch, and the bolt can then be drawn back by pressing the key sideways. Both these specimens are therefore key-drawn as in Class B. Assuming this modern Norwegian lock to be a survival of an ancient form, one might naturally expect that the wooden portions of the ancient locks would have perished. The springs, which are the only metallic portions of this lock, would certainly become detached from the wood; their uses, when discovered separately, would not be recognised, and nothing to identify the mechanism with a door fastening would remain but the iron keys.

We must therefore judge of the distribution of this class of lock by the localities in which keys of this form are found. They are of two kinds, one T-shaped as in the preceding examples, and the other, serving the same purpose, but having the two teeth on one side of the shank; both are found together mainly in northern countries, which have been subject to Scandinavian influence. Notwithstanding which, however, the evidence is insufficient to establish the fact of their being of Scandinavian origin. They appear certainly to have been used in Roman times in England and elsewhere, and the influence of southern civilization upon the Scandinavian arts of the iron age is well established. It is always necessary to be on one's guard against inferring that forms originated of necessity in the regions in which they are most widely distributed, for, as we have seen, and have reason to believe, the wooden Scotch lock was carried to the West Indies and used by negroes on account of the facility with which it was constructed and the materials of which it was composed, so in all ages the more simple forms of contrivances must have found acceptance and survived longer on the outskirts of civilization than in those countries in which they were quickly superseded by new improvements.

Figs. 6C, and 7C, Plate IV., are iron keys of these two kinds obtained by me at Clermont-Ferrand, in Auvergne, France. Figs. 8C, and 9C, Plate IV., are two similar specimens from Colchester, which are figured in Wright's 'Uriconium,' where he supposes them to be latch keys, and he says that two similar ones were found at Wroxeter.[21] Fig. 10C, Plate IV., another in my collection from Jordan Hill, near Weymouth. Fig. 11C, Plate IV., was discovered in a Roman building at Caudebec-les-Elbeuf, by the Abbé Cochet, in 1864,[22] together with an iron lock plate, fig. 12C, Plate IV., showing the slit through which the key entered, and which is similar to the modern Scandinavian specimen above described. Figs. 13C, and 14C, Plate IV., are two similar specimens discovered in a Roman villa at Hartlip, in Kent, and are taken from Roach Smith's 'Collectanea.'[23] Figs. 15C, 16C, and 17C, Plate IV., are similar keys found in Anglo-Saxon graves at Sarr, in Kent, where the presence of these keys on the left side of the skeleton usually denoted a female grave.[24] A similar occurrence of keys in the graves of females has been noticed in the Island of Björkö. According to an old Scandinavian custom they were the badges of the lady of the house, who was said to be married to lock and keys, and from certain law texts of the Middle Ages, it appears that two of them were suspended from the girdle.[25] Keys of this shape of both bronze and iron were found at Sarr, corroded together. It is worthy of remark that in these Saxon graves some fragments of Roman pottery were found, pointing to the influence of the earlier Roman period. Fig. 18C, Plate IV., is a bronze key from Gotland, and is taken from Mr. Montelius's 'Antiquités Suédoises,'[26] where it is described as being of the late iron age, perhaps as late as the 10th century. Figs. 19C, and 20C, Plate IV., are from Björkö, in the Gulf of Bothnia, found in association with relics of the 8th century of our era.

Whether or not the lock which has been described in the preceding paragraph was the origin of the spring padlock, constructed entirely of metal, may perhaps be doubtful; but it is evident that the principle of its construction was the same. In both systems the bolt was secured by the end of a spring catch. It is only necessary to transfer the fixed end of the spring from the door to the bolt, and the notch from the bolt to the door, to make it resemble the spring catch of the Roman padlock about to be described.

The Roman iron padlock and key represented in figs. 21C to 22C, Plate V., which is put together from specimens in my collection obtained partly from Jordan Hill, near Weymouth, and other sources, consisted of a square box, having a bar, d, on the top, and parallel to it, which was attached to one end of the box by means of a curved portion. The bolt a was provided with two perpendicular bars, b b, at the end of which were rings, c c, which slipped on to the parallel bar d. At the end of the bolt were two or more catch springs, e, put on like the barbs of an arrow. These, being placed into the hole of the tube f, at the same time that the rings were slipped along the bar, collapsed and sprung open again, after having passed the opening, thereby fixing the bolt in the tube. To open the lock, a pin or key, g, having a return at the end, in which was a slit made to fit the springs, was pressed in at the opposite end, so as to close up the springs, after which the bolt could be drawn out of the box. This action is better shown in the succeeding examples of modern spring locks of the same kind. The case of a similar padlock to the above was found with Roman remains at Irchester, near Wellingborough, Northampton, by the Rev. R. Baker, in 1878, and is figured in the Associated Architectural Society's Reports, vol. xv., plate iv., 1879.

This padlock was therefore a hand-drawn, and not a key-drawn, lock. Its origin is at present uncertain, but it is here no doubt represented in its more complete and developed state, after having already undergone prior modifications. The absence of simpler contrivances of the same kind suggests the inference that its forerunners may have been made of perishable materials. Be that as it may, its progress onward from this point of perfection can be traced with some degree of certainty. Already in Roman times it had undergone changes. Amongst the Roman antiquities discovered in 1854 by the Honourable Richard Neville (since LordBraybrooke), at Great Chesterford, in Essex,[27] were two kinds of this padlock: one, represented in fig. 23C, Plate V., is of the form already described; the other (figs. 24C and 25C, Plate V.) was constructed on what, judging by those which succeeded it, must probably have been regarded as an improved form, or it may have been merely adapted to a different purpose. The bolt a, instead of having perpendicular bars and rings to slip over the parallel bar, was simply a plain straight bolt with the catch springs attached to it. The horizontal parallel bar of the lock, after passing along the top of the box or tube, was curved down over the mouth of the lock, at a short distance from it, and terminated in a ring, leaving a space between it and the mouth of the tube to admit of the passage of the chain or staple, or whatever was intended to be secured by means of the padlock, as shown in fig. 25C, Plate V. The bolt was slipped through this ring, and on into the tube, the barbed springs flying out and catching after they entered the box, so as to fill up this space and secure the bolt, which was opened and withdrawn in the same manner as before, as shown in fig. 24C, Plate V.

A further modification of this takes place in the Swedish padlock, figs. 26C and 27C, Plate V., in which the parallel bar d, instead of being a fixture, is made to turn upon a hinge at h. When shut, the other end of the bar, instead of coming down over the mouth of the tube, and at a distance from it, as in the preceding example of a Roman padlock, is made to enter the side of the tube at j, and the bolt passes through the ring of the bar, after entering the mouth of the lock and inside, instead of outside of it. By this means we arrive at the ordinary hinge of the padlock which with further modification of form and mechanism is in use on carpet bags in this country at the present day. This Swedish spring padlock was in use in Scandinavia until towards the end of last century. There is one in the Museum at Kiel, which was found with iron spear-heads of the 11th century; others are attributed to the 15th century in that country. Figs. 31C and 32C, Plate V., is a specimen of an English fetterlock of the same construction as the Swedish one, obtained at Epping, near London, and we have evidence that a lock constructed on this principle continued in use throughout the Middle Ages. In 1829 a fragment of an iron padlock, consisting of the tube or box with its parallel bar attached to it, was found in association with some extended skeletons at Lagore, near Dunshaughlin, in the county of Meath, in Ireland. It is figured in the sixth volume of the 'Archæological Journal,' where it is described as an iron pipe, its use being apparently unknown to the writer. It was found in connection with iron leaf-shaped spear heads, broad double-edged swords, bronze pins, and enamelled ornaments, and the post-Roman period of the find is attested by the presence of the fallow deer amongst the associated animal remains. Figs. 28C, 29C, 30C, Plate V., is a Russian bronze padlock, believed to date between the 1st and 4th centuries, greatly resembling the Oriental ones to be hereafter described. It is in the Museum of St. Petersburg, and is copied from M. Liger's work. Fig. 33C, Plate V., is a fragment of one containing the springs and curved bar, found by me in excavations made in the Norman Camp at Folkestone. It was discovered in the body of the rampart, and in a position to prove that it was of the age of the construction of the camp, or of the period of its early occupation.[28] Fig. 34C, Plate V., is a later example very much resembling the Russian padlock, fig. 29C, Plate V., and of the same kind as the last. The curved bar of the bolt fits into a socket in the parallel bar, in which respect it resembles some of the Indian ones to be hereafter described. It was found at Swanscombe, in Kent, and is probably of the 15th century. It is extracted from the 'Archæological Journal.'[29] Part of a padlock similar to this was lately found by Mr. James Wilson in the ditch of Bedford Castle, and was exhibited at the Society of Antiquaries. Another similar one was found near Devizes, and is figured in Dean Merewether's 'Diary of a Dean,' fig. 18. Both of these last, like the Russian bronze one, represented in fig. 29C, are ornamented on the outside of the case with lines of zigzags, resembling Norman tracery; and coupled with the precise resemblance in the construction of the locks, this ornamentation appears to prove an eastern connection during the first four centuries of our era. The fetterlock figures as the badge of the family of the Longs of Wraxall, dating from the 15th century, and it is at the present time the badge of the 14th Company of the Grenadier Guards, an illustration of which is given in the accompanying woodcut. It was one of the badges assumed by Edward IV., and an account of it is given in Sir F. Hamilton's history of that Regiment.[30]

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