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Bone needle


Length: 3.000 cm

P&EE 1939 10-11 151

Room 50: Britain and Europe

    Bone needle

    Iron Age, 500-100 BC
    From Little Woodbury, near Salisbury, Wiltshire, England

    A small piece of Iron Age daily life

    Compared to gold torcs, decorated shields and other Iron Age artefacts, this bone needle might appear to be an unspectacular object. But in its own way this small, common object can tell us as much about the lives of Iron Age people as any fine metal object. This is the type of object commonly found by archaeologists when they excavate Iron Age farms and villages: the bones of the animals people ate, the broken pots once used for cooking, and the broken or lost tools used in the home or on the farm.

    This small, forgotten needle was made from an animal bone left over from preparing a meal. It would have bee used to sew clothes made from wool and linen by someone living on a farm at Little Woodbury, near the modern city of Salisbury, over 2200 years ago. Did a man or woman drop this needle inside their round house after finishing sewing? Or was it a boy or a girl? Whoever it was, the needle was lost and forgotten for over two thousand years before being found by archaeologists in 1939.

    G. Bersu, 'Excavations at Little Woodbury, Wiltshire (1938-39)', Proceedings of the Prehistor-5, 6 (1940), pp. 30-111

    S. James and V. Rigby, Britain and the Celtic Iron Ag (London, The British Museum Press, 1997)


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