casting the mell

casting the mell
allotting poke net (q.v.) fishing rights near the town of Annan on the Solway shore, Scotland. Local fishermen piled up sand heaps on the shore, and then turned away while a neutral observer kicked over one of the piles. The builder of this pile had the first choice of a fishing section. After him, alternate pile builders had a choice of remaining sections. Formerly, the neutral observer through a heavy hammer (or mell) into the circle of sand piles with the pile nearest where the hammer landed getting the first choice

Dictionary of ichthyology. 2009.

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