Masters Thesis

Textile production tools from Viking age graves in Gotland, Sweden

Over the past several decades, the research and analysis of archaeological textiles has become of ever increasing importance in gender, trade and production studies. When analyzing archaeological textiles, researchers must take into consideration the tools that were required to create textiles and how those tools influenced the quality and quantity of fiber that was needed to create multiple forms of textiles used to clothe a population. In past publications, researchers have focused on the analysis and interpretation of the remains of textiles found on the island of Gotland, but have not included in their studies the tools for the production of these textiles. Some of the tools that will be examined in this thesis include spindle whorls, weaving tablets, needles and needle cases. By examining the tools, found in the Viking Age grave sites excavated on Gotland and collecting data in the form of dimensions, weights and quantity of tools found, an interpretation can be made as to what type of textiles could have been created with these tools. By conducting analysis on the textiles and mineralized impressions, we can compare these to data from the tools and extrapolate whether the tools present could have created the fibers found alongside them in the burials. The analysis of this data can give insight into the various types and quality of textiles produced by the tools from the grave sites and to determine whether textiles could have been produced locally or were traded in. In this thesis, I will examine and analyze the textile tools found in approximately 200 Viking age graves located throughout Gotland in an effort to determine whether the production of textiles is feasible with the tools assembled and the types of textiles that could be produced. Not only can this give us insight into the production and trade of textiles during the Viking age on Gotland, but also how the production and/or trade of textiles influenced the daily lives of the inhabitants and how they affected trade and gender in an ever expanding economy.