Monday, August 07, 2006

A trip to To Old Scatness, a collaboration between Shetland Amenity Trust and Bradford University giving insight into life in Britain's most northerly island group.

The archeology dig is at the very southerly tip of the Shetland Islands. Old Scatness Broch is situated beside the airport and on the North Sea. The sight has revealed part of a 19th century crofting settlement, 17th century midden deposits, a Pictish building with rooms formed by stone piers surrounding a central space, much like spokes of a wheel. The Broch, an imposing Iron Age round tower found only in Scotland and the Northern and Western
Isles, was built as defense and a status symbol for the elite.

Our introduction to the sight was a demonstration of life in a Bronze Age home. Here you see drop spindles made of soap stone and wool dyed with plants indigenous to the Shetlands and a frame with card weaving.

The warp weighted loom with its pickup sticks to create the sheds. Both the warp and weft are singles created on the drop spindle.
Skeins of singles are used as shuttles to lay in the weft.

Round rocks (I am assuming soap stone) are used as weights for the warp. I found it very interesting the resemblance to the Navajo looms of our Southwest.

Note the pickup sticks for the warp and the wooden bars that hold the pickup sticks in place. The weaving is done from top to bottom. A shed stick is hanging on the loom. The weaver is seated on a sheep skin as she weaves her cloth.

Card weaving was also shown with leather cards and rock weights to keep the warp under tension.