6.6.3 Textile Production

The occurrence of spindle whorls from both Lair and the King’s Seat, as proxy evidence of textile production, is significant for showing similar processes of textile manufacture at sites with very different social statuses. The decorated stone example from Lair (Johnson in Strachan et al 2019, 85–7), while originally used as a spindle whorl, may have subsequently been used as an amulet or worn as a pendant.

Six spindle whorls from the King’s Seat fort, Dunkeld, were of stone with the exception of one ceramic example. Importantly, the number of these suggests textile-working on site, rather than casual loss. This is notable as only one example was found at Dundurn. A cannel coal armlet and spindle whorls were also among the post-occupation material at Aldclune, but this activity remains undated (Hingley et al 1997, 419).

Detail of decorated spindle whorl at King’s Seat ©️ Perth and Kinross Heritage Trust
Spindle whorl from Glen Shee ©️ Perth and Kinross Heritage Trust

The importance of cloth to the Christian Church may be reflected in the spindle whorl found in Ecclesiamagirdle, near Forteviot (MPK6139; Perth Museum 1992.563). It appears to have a depiction of a free-standing wheel-headed cross of about 10th century date, which may be contemporary with one found at Forteviot (Hall 2011, fig 3.2).

There is a dearth of confirmed loom weights from the area, as has been noted in early medieval Ireland, where it is possible that different kinds of looms were used in comparison to England and southern Scotland (O’Sullivan et al 2014, 238–9).

Leatherworking would have been an important industry, especially given the long pedigree of pastoral agriculture in Highland Perthshire. Thus far, leatherworking has only been encountered at early medieval Dundurn hillfort and in the later burgh of Perth.