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Bowls from Jarlshof, Shetland

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Bowls from Jarlshof, Shetland
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These stone bowls were found at the site of the Norse settlement at Jarlshof in Shetland. Both were carved from steatite, a soft stone found in Shetland. They were used between 1100 and 1300. Bowls of this shape are a local development in late Norse Shetland.

Both bowls have rectangular mouths, and taper down to their narrower bases. The smaller ones has fine vertical chisel marks on the outside. In both cases about one third of the bowl survived, and the rest has been restored.

The Norse settlers 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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