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History's Horrid Jobs
"Many of the less pleasant trades and occupations of our ancestors were described by actor Tony Robinson in the Television series 'The Worst jobs in History'. Some of the questions in this quiz are based on this fascinating series."
15 Points Per Correct Answer - No time limit
Is the job of a Bog Iron Hunter just what it seems, or is there something more to it? What exactly did a Bog Iron Hunter do?
Collected iron weapons from dead warriors after a battle or skirmish.
Emptied latrines, and collected lost or discarded iron implements from them.
Hunted birds and small animals using iron weapons.
Searched for small iron nodules in peat bogs.
With what type of object or material did a Fuller work?
In medieval times, treatment of wounds, and some other conditions, was carried out using leeches to remove blood. Doctors required a constant supply of leeches from Leech Collectors, but how were leeches usually obtained?
They were imported from southern Europe and Africa.
By walking bare legged through reed beds.
Animals were driven through marshlands known to have large colonies of leeches.
Pigs were kept in pens stocked with breeding leeches.
For many years an essential ingredient of mortar was lime, and the production of this vital material could be quite risky. What sort of hazards did a Lime Burner face in the course of his work?
All of these
What did a Turnbrooch do for a living?
Operated a treadmill to raise masonry stones.
Made the fine metal parts of ornaments and jewellery.
Turned the spit on which meat was roasted.
Dug ditches and castle moats.
During the reign of Henry VIII, the Groom of the Stool had a position of considerable trust. What was the main responsibility of his office?
He knelt before the king's throne during official audiences.
He wiped and cleaned the king's bottom.
He acted as a step for the king whenever he mounted or dismounted his horse.
He was the king's personal food taster.
The work of the Gong Scourer was physically demanding and could be quite lonely. What did these essential workers do for a living?
Repaired and cleaned church bells from precarious positions in high belfrys.
Dug out cesspits and cleared blocked sewers.
Kept the blacksmith's forge in good condition, and collected fuel.
Retrieved and cleaned the armour of knights and soldiers killed in battle.
One of the most dangerous jobs was that of the Petardier. Why was this job so dangerous?
He had to stand in the front of a battle line holding a flag or symbol.
He attempted to scale castle walls while carrying a heavy rope ladder.
He experimented with volatile or explosive substances.
He had to attach a primitive bomb to castle gates whilst under fire from the defenders.
Throughout Europe during the 17th century, Musketeers were a common sight. What exactly did Musketeers do?
They specialised in the removal of anything which had an offensive smell, such as decomposing animals, excrement, etc.
They were dashing cavaliers who often wore rich or gaudy clothes, and fought for anyone who would pay them.
They were common foot soldiers who used muskets.
They were itinerant traders who travelled around in ox-carts.
An unusual job title was that of the Knockknobbler. What exactly were this person's duties?
He went round knocking up early morning shift workers in mining towns.
It was slang term for an infantry sergeant or corporal.
It's another name for a carpenter or furniture maker.
He was a dog-catcher.
The Lobblolly had a peculiar job title, but his work was of considerable importance to those requiring his services. What services did he provide?
Manufacturing soap from animal fat.
Feeding and caring for foxhounds and other hunting dogs.
Felling and coppicing trees in ornamental parks and gardens.
Assisting the ship's surgeon on naval vessels.
During the 18th and early 19th centuries, Back Tenters were often child workers, but what sort of work did they do?
Manual labourers in travelling circuses.
Porters who carried tents on military campaigns.
They worked on the looms of textile mills.
Runaways from workhouses who joined gypsy caravans.
Mudlark sounds as though it could be a fun way to earn a living, but was it really? What did a Mudlark do?
Prepared mud for the manufacture of building bricks.
Patrolled the tidal mudflats searching for anything which could be recovered and sold.
Guided people through muddy marshlands and estuaries.
Lit beacons to warn sailing ships of dangerous mud banks.
A common slang expression, meaning something is nonsense, is to say "that's a load of tosh". This saying derives from the occupation of Tosher, so what did a Tosher do for a living?
Dug in rubbish dumps for anything worth selling.
Robbed people in dark streets and alleys.
Collected bird droppings and animal dung for use in tanning leather.
Walked through sewers searching for anything of value.
A fairly common job in Cornwall, England, was that of Bal Maiden. What would she have done for a living?
Music Hall or circus performer.
Bar maid in a seafront tavern.
Cleaned and prepared crabs and other shellfish.
Surface worker in a tin mine.
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Compiled Jun 28 12