Watermills on the Highlands of Xanthi
© Region of Eastern Macedonia & Thrace
During the pre industrial period, the most essential product for man
‘s leaving was wheat which was turned into(transduced) almost exclusively bread. As hand mills weren’t sufficient for grinding, the use of watermills were absolutely necessary .After the establishment of Greek domain, 6000 watermills are mentioned all over Greece. On the highlands of the prefecture of Xanthi more than 60 watermills are recorded, few of them still work.
All over the country watermills are stone built (usually a rectangular room with o loft for the miller’s overnight staying) The roof construction is adjusted to the local architecture, with wooden roofs covered with tiles or schist slates. Usually on one side of the room there is the grinding machine while on the other side customers are waiting, dealing (delivering wheat, flour collection, weighing, and payment) and storage takes place.
The watermill mechanism is simpler in construction and function than the windmill which is divided in two parts: the motile, constructed by the wingy and its function parts and the grinding which contains the millstones with its particles.
The millstone was made by compound stone carefully chosen from specific pits. The diameter of the stone is usually 1 meter, its thickness 20-30 centimeters and it weighs up to 400 kilos. Special piece of wood is used, which is placed in the hole of the stone, in order to move the millstone from the pit. In its central part the millstone has a scabrous surface. This surface becomes smooth due to the constant use. The miller hammers it every now and then.
Among the accessorial areas of the watermill there is a hypaethral construction which is used during the woolen welt-knitted cloth processing, such as the making stage and the annual wash. This construction is a cone shaped pail .Most of it is put underground in order not to crack because of water pressure.
Another additional construction is the “mantani”, a wooden machine used to elaborate woolen fabric by hitting it until it becomes cohesive.
The importance of watermills as regards to the development of the upland places isn’t the same in every era. Aforetime mills were indissolubly connected to the upland habitants' everyday life. Nowadays its significance has been reduced as only five of them still work. The rest of them are abandoned and ruined in nouse.
It is certain that the projection of the traditional watermills can be an attraction for visitors who want to get acquainted with this essential aspect of our cultural heritage.
On the highlands of Xanthi you can visit watermills still working at the villages of: Oreon, Dimarion, Pachni, Satres, Kariofito.