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Lamp from Jarlshof, Shetland

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Lamp from Jarlshof, Shetland
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This steatite hanging lamp was found at the Norse settlement site at Jarlshof in Shetland. It was probably carved from locally available stone sometime between 800 and 1100.

The lamp consists of a rectangular dish with rounded corners. Each end has a projecting lug with a hole for the thread used to hang the lamp (modern examples are used in this picture). The oil would have been placed in the hollow, and a wick floated on it.

The Vikings used steatite for a wide range of artefacts including cooking vessels, spindle whorls, lamps and fishing line sinkers. They were familiar with its uses from Norway, and must have been pleased to find steatite outcropping in Shetland.

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