Tally Stick

A tallystick (from the medieval Latin word for a stick) was used to keep an account of a payment by scoring the wood across with notches and the stick was then split in two along its length so that the two parties to the transaction held matching halves, hence 'does it tally?' When the mayor of Waterford made the city's annual payment to the royal exchequer in Dublin it was recorded on the receipt rolls of the Irish exchequer and on a receipt which was taken to Waterford as a check together with one half of the tallystick, the other half being enrolled with the receipt roll in Dublin.

This was to guarantee security against unscrupulous practice by officials on both sides. Throughout the late 13th century writs were sent by the royal exchequer to the mayor of Waterford asking that he bring his rolls and tallies to Dublin when the accounts were being audited. We can presume that this is a tallystick from the Dublin exchequer. It is made of yew.

date/period:c.1250 A.D./Anglo-Norman

inventory no.:1999.0231

collection:Waterford City Council

location:Reginald's Tower exhibition

dimensions:c.240 length mm

provenance:found in excavations of Waterford city centre 1986-1992


Further Reading:

Late Viking Age & Medieval Waterford Excavations 1986-1992. ISBN 1 872002 98 6

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