8.5.2 Everyday life

Items belonging to the realm of everyday life play a vital role in formulating and expressing identity. For instance, the tools used in the creation of textiles or the preparation of food can tell us more than just the way textiles people wore and the food they ate, but also the livelihood and daily rituals of an entire community.

Textile production equipment has been found throughout the SESARF region, pointing to the activities taking place in the home on a daily basis. All of the loomweights discussed here were made from clay. In the Scottish Borders probable and definite loomweights have been found in excavations at Kersons Cleugh, Longformacus, and as stray finds at Sourhope, Chapelhaugh and Stichill (Blackwell 2018, 268). At Castle Park, Dunbar, the Northumbrian phases of the site contained 36 whole and fragmented loomweights, which were primarily from in or around the sunken-featured building (Perry 2000, 165).

Black and white photograph showing round stone loom weights in the ground of an excavation site
Ratho Quarry cluster of loomweights, found to the North of the sunken-featured building © HES

Ratho Quarry has one of the highest quantities with 68 weights (whole and fragmentary) being found, many of which were found in lines inside a sunken-featured building. This suggests that they were left in situ on a warp-weighted loom or had been stored on a rod (Norton and MacSween 1996, 106–8; Leahy 2011, 445). Of the three lines of weights, the one along the north wall was comprised of lighter weights, indicating the production of finer material, while on the eastern end of the building larger more widely spaced weights would likely have been used for the production of heavier fabric. The warp-weighted loom was used in the Anglo-Saxon period from the 5th century to circa 900 AD (Leahy 2011, 445).

Other important implements in the production of textiles include spindle whorls and pin beaters. Four pin beaters (eg NMS X.1997.306), used to pick individual vertical threads on a loom in order to form a pattern or for beating specific horizontal threads into place, were found at Castle Park, Dunbar (Perry 2000,156).