Don’t you hate it when you’ve finally gotten the hang of a piece of technology, only to see it declared obsolete and replaced with some sort of confusing upgrade? Such was the case for the tally stick, essentially a piece of wood with carvings on it used to remember things by humans since the Upper Paleolithic Era for some 44,000 years. And then in medieval times, the new-fangled split tally stick came along. Sure, the split tally stick (a carved piece of wood split in two with each party involved in a transaction keeping half) offered the functionality of providing a foil and counterfoil (essentially a receipt), but if an unsplit stick was good enough for our great-great-great-great-great (etc.) grandparents….
The video below talks about these incredibly long-lived tools. In England, split tally sticks were used to prove one had paid one’s taxes for an astonishing 600 years, and, as with all technologies, disposing of old ones became problematic. Hundreds of years worth of sticks were stored in England’s Houses of Parliament until 1837 when it was decided that they could be disposed of. In this case, they all went into a stove to be burnt, which overheated and burned down Westminster’s medieval Parliament.