A selection of spindel whorls. All made out of lead. Lead spindle whorls are found all over Europe during the Middle ages. They seems to vary in style over time. Here you can see a number of spindle whorls from a private collection. All in lead. from 6 grams up to 42grams. Both flax and wool have been spun with spindled whorls like these. Did they only use lead during the period? No. Spindel whorls comes in a number of different materials. Femoral heads, horn, ceramics, amber, tin, stone are even wood. The most durable materials are the ones that can withstand degradation best and therefore they are just common among the archaeological finds. Few of tin and wood have survived to our days. The whorls on the pictures are dated from the 800. 1400 AD. They are all found in Germany and England. The sticks are rare and have off course a secondary use as firewood.
We like to spin on spindles. But we are staying off the lead when making whorls ourself. The singel whorl on the picture have been measured and have been modelling for us when we have made a copy of that one, but in tin rater than lead. A stick is also needed when spinning. That can be a simple stick carved by yourself or you can get one fancy stick made by our friend Helena Åberg. The stick on the picture is a simple sushi stick…
Sewing needles from the lake Furen, Sweden. They come in many sizes. Many of the needles have corroded badly over time and are difficult to separate from one another. The have round eyes and are very delicate and a sign of hand from a skilled crafts person.
The needles are dated 1100-1499 AD.
When sewing one need to have a good needle. To be able to press the metal through the fabric it needs to be sharp and have a small eye. A good steel needle is possibly to sharpen. Therefor we choose needles of high quality when sewing. A good tool makes the task more fun.
Sewing thread. All reenactors ask themselves how thick should it be? And how should it look?
All sewing threads for hand sewing, that we have seen on items from migration period up til 20th century have one thing in common. It’s 2-plied. Silks not included, it’s impossible to count.
Thickness? Some say that a sewing thread should be as thin as the threads in the fabric. That is not a rule that is usable on the older historical material. They used a lot thicker thread then both warp and weft combined sometimes.
Here we can see a bottom hem on an alba from Forsby church, Sweden. It is dated 1100-1350. Now in the collections of Historiska museet, Sweden.
So- don’t be afraid to use a thicker thread
/ Amica and Maria
Photos: Historical Textiles- pease cred us if sharing
The third post in our advent calendar is a small spindle whorl from the city of Sigtuna, Sweden.
It’s made from a femoral head. The shape have been adjusted from the original shape and the whorl have now a cone shape. That shape is not so common with the whorls made out of femoral heads. So someone put some effort into this piece.
Right now we not 100% certain on the dating. But roughly it’s the same age as the other finds from Sigtuna. Approx. late 10th century – early 14th. Will update when we have the correct info.
Spindel whorls made of bone have been found at many archeological excavations, from Swedish cities. They are dated from late 10th century and onwards to the 14-15th century. The design is as simple as it is genius. A femoral head from an animal have been cut in half and a hole have been drilled in the centre of the semicircle piece. Creating a perfectly round spindle whorl. Sometimes a disc have been cut from the femoral head, making a slightly lighter whorl.
The whorls are sometimes decorated. Most common are the plain once.
The spindle whorl from Sigtuna is just one out of many, and we plan to post more pictures and measurements from them here on the blog.
SF 1502:ac inv. 123464 The spindle whorl measures 442mm wide, 24 mm thick. It weighs 22g. Dating- this whorl is undated, but similar whorls have been found from Sigtuna and they are dated 985-1000, 1075-1100, 1125-1175. So we can put this whorl in the same time.
Today it can be found in the collections of Sigtuna museum. Sigtuna was the first city in Sweden and the city was founded at the end of the 10th century. The city is very cute and if you ever visit Stockholm or Uppsala- take a detour to Sigtuna!
Sometimes you find a find that you haven’t seen before, and you get really exited about it. This is one of them! This belt buckle is found in Kalmar, Sweden. It was found in the famous excavation Slottsfjärden, the castle bay, where the city of Kalmar emptied the bay of water during 1933-1934 and the bay got cleaned up. A pile of things were found but unfortunately a lot of the things are still very anonymous. And we don’t think they get the attention they deserve.
Today this lovely buckle is in the collections of Historiska Museet in Stockholm, Sweden.
According to the information the buckle, it’s dated to “medeltid” meaning Medieval 1100 – 1500AD . We guess that the dating could be a bit more narrow, we think it belongs in the time frame 1350-1500. Please share your thoughts on the subject too!
The metal is copper alloy. And the buckle measures: Length- 6,4 cm Width front- 6,7 cm Width back- 5,8 cm
It still have some small pieces of leather, that probably was the belt, still attached to the metal. It has also a lightly ornamented decoration.
We really like it and hope that someone, that works with metal, would like to make a copy of it.
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