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Tools: archaeological evidence ante-1100, Ireland

(1,913 words)

Author(s): Maria FitzGerald
Fibres and their preparation Wool and linen were the predominant cloth types and there is evidence for the processes of fibre preparation, spinning, weaving and finishing that are necessary to transform the natural fibres to the finished woven end product. Shears are recorded from pre-Viking contexts but these have generally much shorter blade lengths than the optimum length of 10-15 cm (approx 4 to 6 inches) recommended for sheep shearing. Examples of shears with longer blades are recorded from later Hiberno-Norse sites in Dublin whi…

Sculpture: ante-1100 Ireland, evidence for dress

(2,044 words)

Author(s): Maria FitzGerald
The tradition of carving stone High Crosses and other monumental works emerged under the patronage of the Church. The earliest High Crosses were decorated with non-figurative ornamentation but from the 9th and 10th centuries onwards figurative carving became more prevalent. Early Christian art in the west was often copied from imported models from the east Mediterranean world and elsewhere and as a result the figural scenes are often iconographical in character and the dress styles portrayed are often archaic and eastern in style. It …

Secular dress: Celtic Irish

(974 words)

Author(s): Maria FitzGerald
An understanding of the nature of secular dress in Ireland in the period dating from AD 450 to 1100 is derived primarily from figurative art, such as carved stone crosses and manuscripts, and contemporary literature with supporting evidence from a small assemblage of textiles recovered from archaeological settlement sites. These textiles are generally too fragmentary to constitute entire garments or items of dress but they provide information on materials used as well as details such as tailoring, dyeing and finishing. Literary and figurative sources indicate that the secul…


(2,984 words)

Author(s): Maria FitzGerald
During the medieval period, coarse and fine linen cloth was used for clothing, household fabrics, sailcloth, ropes and sacking. Linen is woven from a vegetable fibre called flax which was not native to Northern Europe but was introduced as a cultigen plant accompanying the northward spread of farming to this region during prehistory. During the early medieval and later medieval periods flax for linen was derived from domestic flax ( Linum usitatissimum). Of particular importance to our understanding of flax preparation for linen cloth in the medieval period in north…