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Needle cases, needle tidy, needles and flints

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from Balnakeil, Durness, Sutherland; Ballinaby, Islay, Inner Hebrides and Cnip, Valtos, Uig, Lewis, Outer Hebrides

Postcard of Needle cases, needle tidy, needles and flints.
© National Museums Scotland

Needle cases, needle tidy, needles and flints

This picture shows sewing objects found in Viking graves from Balnakeil near Durness in Sutherland, from Ballinaby on Islay in the Inner Hebrides and from Cnip at Valtos at Uig, on Lewis in the Outer Hebrides. The graves date from between 850 and 925.

The needle case on the top left, from Ballinaby, was made from a thin bronze plate folded over. The middle one, from Cnip, was made from a bird's bone. On the top right is a needle tidy from Balnakeil. Here, yarn was wound round three needles, perhaps separated by a wooden divider.

The objects on the bottom row are also from Balnakeil. The two iron shanks are probably corroded needles, now fused with flints. Other flints, some of much older use, were also found in the burial. They may have been used to cut thread.

Record details

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Online ID: 000-000-099-774-C
Image Rights Holder: National Museums Scotland
Project: 0036: Kiloran Bay Viking Burial (multimedia essay)
Project description | View all records in project
Ref: National Museums Scotland  X.IL 848
Date: 900 - 1000
Between 850 and 925
Material: Bone; with a polished surface
Glass, enamelled or bone
Dimensions: 84 mm L x 8 mm D
What: Bead / needle case / ferrule
Needle case
Who: Mr and Mrs Maclean (Collector)
Where: Scotland, Argyll, Islay, Ballinaby (no.2)
Scotland, Ross and Cromarty, Lewis, Uig, Valtos (Kneep Head)
Description: One of a collection of eleven beads of enamelled glass, four ornamented with coloured patterns, a needle-case and a ferrule of bone, from a Viking burial at Ballinaby, Islay
Needle-case of bone, possibly from a large bird, with a polished surface, from a Viking grave group from Kneep Head, Valtos, Uig, Isle of Lewis, 900 - 1000
  • Graham-Campbell, James and Batey, Colleen E. Vikings in Scotland. An Archaeological Survey. Edinburgh: University Press, 1998, pp 140-2. 
  • Grieg, Sigurd. Viking Antiquities in Scotland (=Viking Antiquities in Great Britain and Ireland, Part II, ed. by Haakon Shetelig). Oslo: H. Aschehoug & Co., 1940, pp. 32-41. 
  • Welander, R.D.E., Batey C. and Cowie, T.G. 1987 
  • Welander, R.D.E, Batey, Colleen and Cowie, T.G. A Viking burial from Kneep, Uig, Isle of Lewis. Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland 117 (1987), 149-174.
    Find in NLS: Title, Author, Title+Author or British Library: Title, Author, Title+Author
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