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A hearth is the place in a
home A home, or domicile, is a space used as a permanent or semi-permanent residence for one or many Human, humans. It is a fully or semi sheltered space and can have both interior and exterior aspects to it. Homes provide sheltered spaces for ...

home
where a
fire BBQ. Fire is the rapid oxidation of a material in the exothermic chemical process of combustion, releasing heat, light, and various reaction Product (chemistry), products. Fire is hot because the conversion of the weak double bond in molecula ...

fire
is or was traditionally kept for home heating and for
cooking Cooking, cookery, or culinary arts is the art, science, and craft of using heat In thermodynamics Thermodynamics is a branch of physics that deals with heat, Work (thermodynamics), work, and temperature, and their relation to energy ...

cooking
, usually constituted by at least a horizontal hearthstone and often enclosed to varying degrees by any combination of
reredos A reredos ( , , ) is a large altarpiece An altarpiece is an artwork such as a painting, sculpture Sculpture is the branch of the visual arts that operates in three dimensions. It is one of the plastic arts. Durable sculptural processes orig ...

reredos
,
fireplace A fireplace or hearth A hearth is the place in a where a is or was traditionally kept for home heating and for , usually constituted by at least a horizontal hearthstone and often enclosed to varying degrees by any combination of , , , ...

fireplace
,
oven upA double oven A ceramic oven An oven is a tool which is used to expose materials to a hot environment. Ovens contain a hollow chamber and provide a means of heating the chamber in a controlled way. In use since Prehistoric technology, antiq ...

oven
, smoke hood, or
chimney A chimney is an architectural ventilation structure made of masonry, clay or metal that isolates hot toxic exhaust gas Exhaust gas or flue gas Flue gas is the gas exiting to the atmosphere via a flue, which is a pipe or channel for c ...

chimney
. Hearths are usually composed of
masonry Masonry is the building of structures from individual units, which are often laid in and bound together by mortar Mortar may refer to: * Mortar (weapon), an indirect-fire infantry weapon * Mortar (masonry), a material used to fill the gaps betwe ...

masonry
such as
brick A brick is a type of block used to build walls, pavements and other elements in masonry construction. Properly, the term ''brick'' denotes a block composed of dried clay, but is now also used informally to denote other chemically cured cons ...

brick
or
stone A rock is any naturally occurring solid mass or aggregate of minerals or mineraloid matter. It is categorized by the minerals included, its chemical composition and the way in which it is formed. Rocks form the Earth's outer solid layer, th ...
. For centuries, the hearth was such an integral part of a
home A home, or domicile, is a space used as a permanent or semi-permanent residence for one or many Human, humans. It is a fully or semi sheltered space and can have both interior and exterior aspects to it. Homes provide sheltered spaces for ...

home
, usually its central and most important feature, that the concept has been generalized to refer to a homeplace or household, as in the terms "hearth and home" and "keep the home fires burning". In the modern era, since the advent of
central heating A central heating system provides warmth to the number of spaces within a building and optionally also able to heat domestic hot water from one main source of heat unlike heating, ventilation, and air conditioning File:Control circuit in hou ...
, hearths are usually less central to most people's daily life because the heating of the home is instead done by a
furnace A furnace is a structure in which heat is produced with the help of combustion. Furnace may also refer to: Appliances Buildings * Furnace (house heating) A furnace (American English), referred to as a heater or boiler in British English, is ...
or a heating
stove A stove is a device that burns fuel A fuel is any material that can be made to react with other substances so that it releases energy as thermal energy Thermal radiation in visible light can be seen on this hot metalwork. Thermal energ ...

stove
, and cooking is instead done with a
kitchen stove A kitchen stove, often called simply a stove or a cooker, is a kitchen appliance designed for the purpose of cooking food. Kitchen stoves rely on the application of Heat transfer#Conduction, direct heat for the cooking process and may also contain ...
with
oven upA double oven A ceramic oven An oven is a tool which is used to expose materials to a hot environment. Ovens contain a hollow chamber and provide a means of heating the chamber in a controlled way. In use since Prehistoric technology, antiq ...

oven
plus
microwave oven A microwave oven (commonly referred to as a microwave) is an electric oven upA double oven A ceramic oven An oven is a tool A tool is an object that can extend an individual's ability to modify features of the surrounding environment. ...

microwave oven
,
toaster oven upA double oven A ceramic oven An oven is a tool A tool is an object that can extend an individual's ability to modify features of the surrounding environment. Although many animals use simple tools, only human beings, whose use of stone ...

toaster oven
, or other
home appliance A home appliance, also referred to as a domestic appliance, an electric appliance or a household appliance, is a machine which assists in household A household consists of one or several persons who live in the same dwelling In law, a dw ...
s; thus many homes built in the 20th and 21st centuries do not have hearths. Nonetheless, many homes still have hearths, which still help serve the purposes of warmth, cooking, and comfort. Before the industrial era, a common design was to place a hearth in the middle of the room as an open hearth, with the smoke rising through the room to a
smoke hole A smoke hole (smokehole, smoke-hole) is a hole in a roof for the smoke from a fire to vent. Before the invention of the smoke hood or chimney, dwellings had smoke holes to allow the smoke from the hearth to escape. Smoke holes in buildings Smo ...

smoke hole
in the roof. In later designs which usually had a more solid and continuous roof, the hearth was instead placed to the side of the room and provided with a
chimney A chimney is an architectural ventilation structure made of masonry, clay or metal that isolates hot toxic exhaust gas Exhaust gas or flue gas Flue gas is the gas exiting to the atmosphere via a flue, which is a pipe or channel for c ...

chimney
. In fireplace design, the hearth is the part of the fireplace where the fire burns, usually consisting of
fire brick A fire brick, firebrick, or refractory is a block of ceramic material used in lining furnaces, kilns, firebox (steam engine), fireboxes, and fireplaces. A refractory brick is built primarily to withstand high temperature, but will also usually ha ...

fire brick
masonry Masonry is the building of structures from individual units, which are often laid in and bound together by mortar Mortar may refer to: * Mortar (weapon), an indirect-fire infantry weapon * Mortar (masonry), a material used to fill the gaps betwe ...

masonry
at floor level or higher, underneath the
fireplace mantel The fireplace mantel or mantelpiece, also known as a chimneypiece, originated in medieval times as a hood that projected over a fire grate to catch the smoke. The term has evolved to include the decorative framework around the fireplace, and c ...
.


Archaeological features

The word ''hearth'' derives from an
Indo-European root The roots A root In vascular plants, the roots are the plant organ, organs of a plant that are modified to provide anchorage for the plant and take in water and nutrients into the plant body, which allows plants to grow taller and faster. Th ...
, ''*ker-'', referring to burning, heat, and fire (seen also in the word ''carbon''). In
archaeology Archaeology or archeology is the study of human activity through the recovery and analysis Analysis is the process of breaking a complexity, complex topic or Substance theory, substance into smaller parts in order to gain a better underst ...
, a hearth is a firepit or other fireplace feature of any period. Hearths are common
feature Feature may refer to: Computing * Feature (CAD), could be a hole, pocket, or notch * Feature (computer vision), could be an edge, corner or blob * Feature (software design) is an intentional distinguishing characteristic of a software item ( ...
s of many eras going back to prehistoric campsites and may be either lined with a wide range of materials, such as stone or left unlined. They were used for cooking, heating, and the processing of some stone, wood, faunal, and floral resources. Occasionally site formation processes—e.g., farming or excavation—deform or disperse hearth features, making them difficult to identify without careful study. Lined hearths are easily identified by the presence of
fire-cracked rock In archaeology Archaeology or archeology is the study of human activity through the recovery and analysis of material culture. Archaeology is often considered a branch of socio-cultural anthropology, but archaeologists also draw from biologi ...
, often created when the heat from the fires inside the hearths chemically altered and cracked the stone. Often present are fragmented
fish Fish are aquatic Aquatic means relating to water Water (chemical formula H2O) is an inorganic, transparent, tasteless, odorless, and nearly colorless chemical substance, which is the main constituent of Earth's hydrosphere and the ...

fish
and
animal Animals (also called Metazoa) are multicellular A multicellular organism is an organism In biology, an organism () is any organic, life, living system that functions as an individual entity. All organisms are composed of cells ...

animal
bones,
carbon Carbon (from la, carbo "coal") is a with the C and 6. It is lic and —making four s available to form s. It belongs to group 14 of the periodic table. Carbon makes up only about 0.025 percent of Earth's crust. Three occur naturally, ...

carbon
ized
shell Shell may refer to: Architecture and design * Shell (structure)A shell is a type of structural element which is characterized by its geometry, being a three-dimensional solid whose thickness is very small when compared with other dimensions, and ...
,
charcoal Charcoal is a lightweight black carbon Carbon (from la, carbo "coal") is a with the C and 6. It is lic and —making four s available to form s. It belongs to group 14 of the periodic table. Carbon makes up only about 0.025 perc ...

charcoal
, ash, and other waste products, all embedded in a
sequence In mathematics Mathematics (from Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as numbers (arithmetic and number theory), formulas and related structures (algebra), shapes and spaces in which they are contained (geometry), and quantities and t ...
of
soil Soil is a mixture In chemistry Chemistry is the science, scientific study of the properties and behavior of matter. It is a natural science that covers the Chemical element, elements that make up matter to the chemical compound, comp ...

soil
that has been deposited atop the hearth. Unlined hearths, which are less easily identified, may also include these materials. Because of the
organic Organic may refer to: * Organic, of or relating to an organism, a living entity * Organic, of or relating to an anatomical organ (anatomy), organ Chemistry * Organic matter, matter that has come from a once-living organism, is capable of decay or ...
nature of most of these items, they can be used to pinpoint the date the hearth was last used via the process of
radiocarbon dating Radiocarbon dating (also referred to as carbon dating or carbon-14 dating) is a method for determining the age of an object containing organic material Organic matter, organic material, or natural organic matter refers to the large source of ...
. Although carbon dates can be negatively affected if the users of the hearth burned old wood or coal, the process is typically quite reliable. This was the most common way to cook, and to heat interior spaces in cool seasons.


Hearth tax

In the
Byzantine Empire The Byzantine Empire, also referred to as the Eastern Roman Empire, or Byzantium, was the continuation of the Roman Empire The Roman Empire ( la, Imperium Rōmānum ; grc-gre, Βασιλεία τῶν Ῥωμαίων, Basileía tôn ...

Byzantine Empire
a tax on hearths known as ''kapnikon'' was first explicitly mentioned for the reign of Nikephorus I (802–811) although its context implies that it was already then old and established and perhaps it should be taken back to the 7th century AD. Kapnikon was a tax raised on households without exceptions for the poor. In England, a tax on hearths was introduced on 19 May 1662. Householders were required to pay a charge of two
shilling The shilling is a historical coin, and the name of a unit of modern currencies A currency, "in circulation", from la, currens, -entis, literally meaning "running" or "traversing" in the most specific sense is money Image:National-D ...
s per annum for each hearth, with half the payment due at
Michaelmas Michaelmas ( ; also known as the Feast of Saints Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael, the Feast of the Archangels, or the Feast of Saint Michael and All Angels) is a Christian Christians () are people who follow or adhere to Christianity, a mon ...
and half at
Lady Day In the Western liturgical year The liturgical year, also known as the church year or Christian year, as well as the kalendar, consists of the cycle of liturgical seasons in Christian churches that determines when feast days, including c ...

Lady Day
. Exemptions to the tax were granted, to those in receipt of
poor relief In Kingdom of England, English and British Isles, British history, poor relief refers to government and ecclesiastical action to relieve poverty. Over the centuries, various authorities have needed to decide whose poverty deserves relief and a ...
, those whose houses were worth less than 20 shillings a year and those who paid neither church nor poor
rates Rate or rates may refer to: Finance * Rates (tax) Rates are a type of property tax system in the United Kingdom, and in places with systems deriving from the British one, the proceeds of which are used to fund local government. Some other ...

rates
. Also exempt were charitable institutions such as schools and
almshouses An almshouse (also known as a bede-house, poorhouse, or hospital) is charitable The practice of charity means the Volunteering, voluntary giving of help to those in need, as a Humanitarianism, humanitarian act. There are a number of Philosophy, p ...

almshouses
, and industrial hearths with the exception of smiths' forges and bakers' ovens. The returns were lodged with the Clerk of the Peace between 1662 and 1688. A revision of the Act in 1664 made the tax payable by all who had more than two chimneys. The tax was abolished by
William III
William III
in 1689 and the last collection was for Lady Day of that year. It was abolished in Scotland in 1690. Hearth tax records are important to
local historians Local may refer to: Geography and transportation * Local (train), a train serving local traffic demand * Local, Missouri, a community in the United States * Local government, a form of public administration, usually the lowest tier of administrati ...
as they provide an indication of the size of each assessed house at the time. The numbers of hearths are generally proportional to the size of the house. The assessments can be used to indicate the numbers and local distribution of larger and smaller houses. Not every room had a hearth, and not all houses of the same size had exactly the same number of hearths, so they are not an exact measure of house size.
Roehampton University The University of Roehampton, formerly Roehampton Institute of Higher Education, is a public university A public university or public college is a university or college that is in state ownership or receives significant Government spending, publ ...
has an ongoing project which places hearth tax data in a national framework by providing a series of standard bands of wealth applicable to each county and city. Published lists are available of many returns and the original documents are in the
Public Record Office The Public Record Office (abbreviated as PRO, pronounced as three letters and referred to as ''the'' PRO), Chancery Lane Chancery Lane is a one-way street situated in the Wards of the City of London, ward of Farringdon Without in the C ...
. The most informative returns, many of which have been published, occur between 1662–1666 and 1669–1674.


Religion

In
Greek mythology Greek mythology is the body of myth Myth is a folklore genre Folklore is the expressive body of culture shared by a particular group of people; it encompasses the tradition A tradition is a belief A belief is an Attitude (psyc ...
,
Hestia In the Ancient Greek religion Ancient Greek religion encompasses the collection of beliefs, rituals, and mythology Myth is a folklore genre Folklore is the expressive body of culture shared by a particular group of people; it encompa ...

Hestia
is the goddess of the hearth, while in Roman mythology Vesta has the same role. In ancient Persia, according to
Zoroastrian Zoroastrianism or Mazdayasna is an Iranian religion and one of the world's oldest continuously-practiced organized faiths, based on the teachings of the Iranian-speaking prophet Zoroaster Zoroaster (, ; el, Ζωροάστρης, ''Zōr ...
traditions, every house was expected to have a hearth for offering sacrifices and prayers.Boyce, Mary. ''A history of Zoroastrianism''. 2nd impression with corrections. ed. Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1989. 154. Hearth is also a term for a family unit, or local worship group, in the Heathen religion.


See also

*
Agungi An ''agungi'' ( ko, 아궁이) is a firebox found in traditional Korean kitchens which is used to burn firewood Firewood is any wooden Wood is a porous and fibrous structural tissue found in the stems and roots of tree In b ...
*
Brazier A brazier () is a container used to burn charcoal or soil, and firing it (circa 1890) Charcoal is a lightweight black carbon Carbon (from la, carbo "coal") is a chemical element with the Symbol (chemistry), symbol C and atomic num ...
* *
Cook stove Cook stove may refer to: * Improved cookstove Improved cook stoves are biomass or non-biomass stoves that are intended to replace traditional cook stoves and open fires, in the context of energy poverty and cooking. As of 2020, more than 2.6 billi ...
*
Firebox (architecture) A firebox or firepit is the part of the fireplace where fuel is combusted, in distinction from the hearth, chimney, Fireplace mantel, mantel, overdoor and flue elements of the total fireplace system. The firebox normally sits on a masonry base a ...
*
Fireplace A fireplace or hearth A hearth is the place in a where a is or was traditionally kept for home heating and for , usually constituted by at least a horizontal hearthstone and often enclosed to varying degrees by any combination of , , , ...

Fireplace
* *
Forge A forge is a type of hearth A hearth is the place in a home where a fire is or was traditionally kept for home heating and for cooking, usually constituted by at least a horizontal hearthstone and often enclosed to varying degrees by an ...

Forge
*
Hall house The hall house is a type of vernacular house traditional in many parts of England England is a that is part of the . It shares land borders with to its west and to its north. The lies northwest of England and the to the southwest. E ...
*
Hibachi The is a traditional Japan Japan ( ja, 日本, or , and formally ) is an island country An island country or an island nation is a country A country is a distinct territory, territorial body or political entity. It is oft ...
*
Inglenook An inglenook or chimney corner is a recess that adjoins a fireplace A fireplace or hearth A hearth is the place in a where a is or was traditionally kept for home heating and for , usually constituted by at least a horizontal hear ...

Inglenook
*
Kitchen A kitchen is a room In a building, a room is any space Space is the boundless extent in which and events have relative and . In , physical space is often conceived in three s, although modern s usually consider it, with , to be par ...

Kitchen
* Vesta Goddess of the hearth


References

{{Authority control Archaeological features Fireplaces Home de:Herd gd:Cagailt pt:Lareira