Line sinker and ladle from Jarlshof, Shetland

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Postcard of Line sinker and ladle from Jarlshof, Shetland.
© National Museums Scotland

Line sinker and ladle from Jarlshof, Shetland

This line sinker and ladle were both carved from the soft stone steatite between 800 and 1100. They were found at the Norse settlement site at Jarlshof in Shetland.

The line sinker, here pictured with a modern cord, has an original bone plug. It would have been used for fishing at sea with handheld lines. The ladle has a short, squared-off handle. The base has been darkened by burning. It is partly restored.

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.

Record details

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Online ID: 000-000-136-637-C
Image Rights Holder: National Museums Scotland
Project: 0035: Early Scottish Shelter - Life in the Prehistoric Home (multimedia essay)
Project description | View all records in project
Ref: National Museums Scotland  X.HSA 638
Date: Line sinker: between 800 and 1100; Ladle: between 900 and 1000
Material: Steatite; basal plug hole in a transverse groove
Steatite; handle square in section, top of handle flush with bowl rim; base darkened by burning; reconstructed
Dimensions: 2.60" H x 3.70" D
5.50" x 3.50" x 2.10"
What: Ladle
Line sinker
Where: Scotland, Shetland, Sumburgh, Jarlshof
Scotland, Shetland, Sumburgh, Jarlshof
Description: Steatite line sinker with bone peg for line in socket, from Jarlshof
Handled steatite ladle from Jarlshof
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