How many red herrings?

English: Clupea harengus. A herring school (an...
Clupea harengus. A herring school (Video by Uwe Kils)

What was a cran?

“In Great Britain, at least as early as the 18th century, a volume of fresh herring before cleaning.  From the Gaelic crann, a measure for herring. Sometimes spelled crane. A cran typically contains about 1200 fish, but can vary from 700 to 2500. The cran originated in Scotland as a heaped measure. A standard but bottomless 30-gallon herring barrel was filled to overflowing with fish, and then the barrel was lifted off. Because the fish were heaped, the resulting pile contained more than 30 gallons of herring – observers estimated around 34 wine gallons. An Act of 1815 allowed the Commissioners of the Fishery Board to define the size of the cran, which they did in 1816, setting it at 42 wine gallons.”

What does this spark in your imagination?

Ask yourself… Why? What if? Who? What next? Why not? How much? What for?

What crime could have sparked by an argument over the point of overflowing? Is there romance in measuring herring? Where’s the drama in the Fishery Commissioners’ cran committee?

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