There isn't much information regarding the history of trug making, except for the more northern styles of trug, or slops as they were known in the lake district. These are made with a rim and base frame of split birch and the body of riven oak strips are shaved to the required thickness with the draw knife. These fairly narrow oak strips are placed side by side around the framework and interwoven with a finer strip of oak, to hold the work tight. This type of trug or slop, was usually round or kidney shaped and sometimes made in various sizes and shapes to be used for corn sowing, apple containers or any use it could afford.
The trug, mentioned in some mediaeval manuscripts, was probably the type mentioned above, and not the sussex trug as we all know today, although, the latter can certainly be imagined used in those times, as the simplicity and robustness is equal to the northern type trugs.
The round trug from the Shropshire/Welsh borders, pictured above, is fourteen inches diameter and seven inches deep. It has a framework of ash and body of willow slats, the centre slat is three and a half inches wide whilst the other slats narrow to one and a half inches at the rim.
The so called sussex trug, was also made in some parts of the midlands and the west country. The framework of ash or chestnut comprises the rim, handle and base frame pinned together. The body is of willow slats, split and shaved with the draw knife. The centre slat is pinned on first, the rest overlapping to the rim.
Most references say the meaning of the word trug derives from the old English "trog", meaning a small boat or the saxon for boat, "troog", and could even be a variant of "trough". However, we have a centuries old reference to the sussex word "trugg" (country word) meaning a milk tray or a hod to carry mortar, also, an ancient measure of about two bushels. Also from the same reference, "trugg", is an allowance of corn to the vicar of Leimster, for officiating at some chapels of ease in that parish.
Preserving rural bygones