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…
Sometimes you come across a breathtaking textile. This fabric, that is part of a Swedish embroidery from mid to late 15th century, is probably that highest quality linen we have ever seen.
The photo is taken with a USB microscope and we are sad that the quality of the photo is not matching that quality of the fabric. Sorry for the blurry pic!
The fabric measures 21-22 threads per 5mm. That is 42-44 threads per cm. Thinking of the skills that it takes to hand spin, on spindle, such even and thin threads is just beyond mad. The weave is super even and it is just pure pleasure for a weaver to look at it.
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.
The second post in our advent calendar is a distaff found in Nyköping, Sweden.
Distaffs are rarely labeled as “distaffs” in the museum data bases. So is also the case with this one. The are often labeled as “wood fragment”. We understand if it’s difficult to tell one wood fragment from another, but the notch usually give them away.
This one is dated to 13-15th century.
It is broken and today it’s approx. 30cm long. The thickness is approx. 15-18mm wide.
Today it can be found in the collections of Sörmlands museum.
/ Amica and Maria
Photos: Historical Textiles- pease cred us if sharing
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!
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