If you were a sawyer in the late eighteenth-century, you might not have begun your day’s work as early as other craftsmen and labourers, for the sawpit could, on occasion, be a hazardous place at the break of day.
Duellists, who customarily chose to square-up to one another at dawn, often did so within the confines of a sawpit. By the end of the eighteenth-century, dueling with swords had declined in favour of puff-bang pistols and the like: The walls of a sawpit would have arrested any stray lead, thus protecting on-lookers from potential injury. Plus, being an illegal activity, the pit would have gone some way to muffle the sounds of the shots.
The banner above the vacillating duellists in Heath’s print reads, ‘Did you mean to Offend me? indeed Sir not I. – indeed Sir I’m very glad on’t!!!‘