Monday, August 20, 2012

Grave Goods and Goodies

We visited the National Museum in Reykjavik and spent some time exploring the collections. They are very proud of their settlement heritage and had wonderful displays.

These are all the Grave Goods of women, Vikings were generally buried with items they may need in the afterlife - from practical tools and clothing to horses and dogs. We can see how people lived by their graves, as it was expected that they would continue with the same activities in the underworld.
 These items are from a woman's grave in the 10th century. The large metal brooches held an apron across the front of her tunic and had a third piece strung between them. Jewelry is made of amber, rock crystal, and glass with metal. Combs are made of bone. There are scythes, scissors and a wool comb.
 These are brooches of metal and bone. The penannular rings are a Celtic design and probably traded. There were also buttons found at the sites, but they were used solely for decoration not for fastening.
 Here are grind stones for grains (barley is about the only grin that grows in Iceland's climes) and cooking pots. The iron pot is somewhat rare, most pots of that era are carved soapstone. Soapstone is not found in Iceland, so these were brought over from Norway - rich grave goods indeed!
 Here are more grave goods (and house excavations) for women's work. The round stones are spindle whorls, the large ones are rocks for a warp weighted loom (pic below). The large piece is a whale bone beater for weaving, the small bones are sheep for winding thread to weave with. A very ornate iron needle case and whetstones (also from Norway due to geology) for sewing work.
 These are samples of the finely made homespun cloth, including some pattern work. The fabric does not usually survive well, this bits were protected by one of the large oval brooches against the ravages of time.

Notice the braid of yarn and the hanging rocks. This simple loom style was used in the far north of Europe thru the 19th century, it is easy to build and one can simply gather stones suitable for drilling to make the warp system. These are all volcanic rock, native Icelandic.

There's a lot more interesting fiber craft goodies, more to come in my next post!

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