Cool textile finds in recent dig

Ancient textiles are very difficult to find because of their fragility, but in the last two years archaeologists in England have uncovered textiles that are approximately 3,000 years old.

The textiles were discovered at a site called Must Farm, which is located in the northern part of England near Whittlesey.


The settlement dates back to the end of the Bronze Age, around 1000 – 800 B.C.E. The Bronze Age, which began around 3,000 B.C., is the period when people first began to use metals. According to, the Bronze Age did not take place in England until approximately 1900 B.C.E.

The settlement at Must Farm was destroyed by fire. The settlement was built on a platform on piles over a river and when the fire swept through, the settlement collapsed into the water. Because of the charring that took place on everything and the collapse into the river, the settlement rested in silt until some decaying timbers were discovered in 1999.

Here are the textile discoveries made in 2015 and 2016. They shed a interesting light on how far fiber production had developed up until that time:

Here is a bobbin of thread:



A ball of thread:


One woman on the Must Farm Facebook page mentioned that the thread looks plied.


Archaeologists are not sure what the thread is made from. A good guess would either be wool or a plant material.

Look at this beautiful example of weaving:


These fibers are from lime tree bark:


Here is a pin-beater, which is used in weaving for pushing down thread:


The following two pictures are rope (Jenn on Roving Crafters appropriately calls rope “yarn on steroids”).


This rope is still attached to a post:


These finds and the many, many others from the site show that the people were “highly skilled in using a range of materials”, as one article from the BBC says. As a spinner, the thread is amazing to me because these people were making very thin yarn. From the looks of it, the thread is even and it’s plied!  This takes some skill! I wonder what their spindles looked like? I wonder if the thread was dyed, and if so with what? Did the sample of weaving have a design or was it plain cloth? Whatever it was the weaver knew what he or she was doing.

There are other finds for those interested in crafting – pots, colorful beads, wood bowls, metals – and plenty for those wanting to look at ancient architecture, transportation and culture. It will be interesting to see what other items the archaeologists find as they go deeper.

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