What just happened?

To celebrate Vikings Live, we have replaced our Roman alphabet with the runic alphabet used by the Vikings, the Scandinavian ‘Younger Futhark’. The ‘Younger Futhark’ has only 16 letters, so we have used some of the runic letters more than once or combined two runes for one Roman letter.

For an excellent introduction to runes, we recommend Martin Findell’s book published by British Museum Press.

More information about how we have ‘runified’ this site


Collection online

Additional options
Production date to

Or search by


food-cover / cloth

  • Object type

  • Museum number


  • Description

    A covering-cloth for food, a 'messal'. A rectangular cloth made of predominantly cream-coloured twill woven wool cloth. The yarn used is handspun singles and the cloth handwoven. Three wide black bands separated by two red bands form the patterning. At one end the main weft yarn is a darker shade than the rest. The warp ends are left unfinished.


  • Date

    • 1875-1899
  • Production place

  • Findspot

  • Materials

  • Technique

  • Dimensions

    • Length: 89.5 centimetres
    • Width: 54.5 centimetres
  • Curator's comments

    Text from Eth Doc 1836 (entry 106): Covering-cloth, 'messal'. It is made of a basket-woven [twill: s longhurst] well-set cloth, in multicoloured stripes all along the weft, very similar to those used for the local rugs. It is used for covering the dough to make it rise in a shorter time or the bread while still warm.
    End of the C19th.


  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition date


  • Acquisition notes

    Part of a collection of 347 items given by the Bulgarian Committee for Cultural Relations in 1971, together with a full list describing each item, its manufacture and usage, with general account of Bulgarian costume in the different regions (Eth Doc 1836, pp. 21-25); specific information is given under 'Curator's Comment'.

  • Department

    Britain, Europe and Prehistory

  • Registration number



If you’ve noticed a mistake or have any further information about this object, please email: collectiondatabase@britishmuseum.org 

View open data for this object with SPARQL endpoint

Object reference number: EEU477

British Museum collection data is also available in the W3C open data standard, RDF, allowing it to join and relate to a growing body of linked data published by organisations around the world.

View this object

Support the Museum:
donate online

The Museum makes its collection database available to be used by scholars around the world. Donations will help support curatorial, documentation and digitisation projects.

About the database

The British Museum collection database is a work in progress. New records, updates and images are added every week.

More about the database 


Work on this database is supported by a range of sponsors, donors and volunteers.

More about supporters and how you
can help