Saturday, August 28, 2010

Spinning artefacts at the National Museum

Summer; a time for holidays, for not being in work & for doing things for the fun of it. During some recent time off work I visited the National Museum on Kildare Street. I had noticed a couple of spindle whorls in the medieval section on a previous visit and wanted to take a closer look.
Of course, you can't take photos in the museum so I was restricted to making a few sketches.
I was delighted to find more spindles & related artefacts in the Viking section too. Considering my recent attempts to make my own drop spindle I was fascinated by the variety of whorl shapes & materials.

There were whorls made of bone and steatite

A variety of spindle shafts made from copper alloy, wood & bone. Based on appearance alone there were both top-whorl and bottom-whorl spindles in the collection.

In the medieval section there were spindle whorls made of antler, stone & bone. Both were about 1 1/2 - 2 inches in diameter.


Also in the medieval section, there was a wooden object listed as a 'possible yarn winder'. It looks quite like part of a Turkish spindle to my eyes.

Of course there were also samples of fibres, textile fragments & other related bits in the museum but capturing these accurately in a 2 minute sketch would have been very difficult. I really enjoy the museum; I love seeing the artefacts and imagining people making & using these objects many years ago; I also wonder what they would think of their everyday tools ending up in a display case, stared at and admired by visitors hundreds and even thousands of years later. I enjoyed seeing objects that are hundreds of years old and recognising what they were and how they were used; I know that I have very similar tools in my possession; I know that my spinning is contributing to something that is thousands of years old and that makes me feel connected to the people who lived so long ago. I find it comforting that in an age of internet, computers and smartphones that there are quite a number of us still practising these ancient skills, that we're not completely removed from our past.