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A piece of sandstone used for scrubbing wooden decks on board ship. Opinions differ as to how it received its name: because it was used originally for scrubbing the decks on Sundays, because the easiest method of supply was by robbing churchyards of their tombstones, or because seamen had to use it on their hands and knees to get a good result. Large holystones were known as ‘bibles’, smaller ones, for use in difficult corners, were ‘prayer books’, and these names certainly came into use because seamen had to get down on their knees when using them.

Subjects: Maritime History.

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