A History of Weathervanes: From Instrumental to Ornamental

An Amish weathervane is considered to be an ornamental accessory for homes and barns today, but in the past, these were important instruments. You’ll often see a weathervane mounted high on top of a house. When mounted properly it will catch the slightest breeze and pivot accurately to show the direction the wind is coming from. Let’s take a quick look at the history of the weathervane.

Ancient Greece

The weathervane is an ancient type of instrument that likely originated in ancient cultures. According to ThoughtCo, weathervanes were in use as early as the first century BC in ancient Greece. People used the tool to predict weather and plan their crops and harvest calendars.

The first time a weathervane is documented in history would have been in 48 BC. It’s written that a weathervane sat atop the Tower of the Winds in Athens. This particular weathervane was made to look like the Greek god Triton and the trident in his hand pointed the direction of the wind.


During the ninth century AD, weathervanes were often used by Vikings. This particular type was made with a quadrant shape and topped with animals or Norse fable characters. These were sometimes mounted onto the front of ships or on top of Scandinavian churches.

The Pope

The Catholic Church even has connections with weathervanes as well. It’s reported that the Pope once decreed that all church steeples should have the image of a cockerel mounted on it. Eventually, this image was combined with a weathervane producing the iconic image we know today.

Modern Weathervanes

The custom of mounting weathervanes eventually made its way to the New World when colonists traveled here from Europe. It was crucial for early farmers to use any resource available to help with weather predictions in order to grow crops and survive in the new land. Famous American weathervanes include the one displaying a dove of peace mounted on the top of Mount Vernon at the request of George Washington, an avid follower of the weather.

Today, weathervanes aren’t necessary for weather predictions, but they are a nostalgic and beautiful way to embellish homes and barns. Amish weathervanes are some of the most well-made to date, using old-fashioned metal-working practices to produce quality products.

These are just a few facts about the history of weathervanes. If you’re interested in purchasing Amish weathervanes, please contact Amish Mike or check out our inventory!