There is a spinning wheel pictured in the Luttrell Psalter, a 14th century European manuscript, and that wheel is constructed on the same principles as a great wheel.
You can see a wheel based on the Luttrell Psalter in use WAG Screen's Luttrell Psalter Film online at http://www.luttrellpsalter.org.uk/. The film is a live action interpretation of the manuscript. The wheel appears at the 4:30 mark. There's a closeup of winding yarn on the wheel's spindle at 5:45. The spinner is using a wheelboy to turn the wheel.
Stick around for the 12 minute mark. I have no idea how the angry wife's drop spindle stays attached to her flax distaff as she beats the cowering husband over the head with it.