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tally stick 1

exhibition number: Agriculture 21.2

Tally stick for counting sheep

tally stick 2

There are four tally sticks in the Tre'r Ddol Collection. Each are about 30 cms long and 1.5 cms square (12 inches x ½ inch). The four faces are marked in the following ways:

Face 1: 'X's (representing 10 sheep) and 'I' representing one sheep. e.g. XXXXXXXII = 72 sheep

Face 2: as above, but for lambs

Face 3: 'I's only for wethers (castrated rams)

Face 4: The name of the farm and/or owner and sometimes a written list of the type and number of animals.

A notch in the end, which can be on any face, represents a ram.

On three of the sticks, the sheep are counted on the opposite face to the lambs; on one, they are counted on the adjacent face, but from the other end.

In the Lake district the shepherds may still be heard counting sheep with the following words, some of which are like Welsh numbers: "Yan, Tan, Tethera, Methera, Pimp, Sethera, Lehtera, Hovera, Dovera, Dick, Yan-a-Dik, Tan-a-Dick, Tethera-a-Dick, Methera-a-Dick, Bumfit, Yan-a-Bumfit,Tethera-a-Bumfit, Methera-a-Bumfit, Giggot."