Whalebone comb

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from Howmae, North Ronaldsay, Orkney

Postcard of Whalebone comb.
© National Museums Scotland

Whalebone comb

This whalebone comb was found at Howmae on North Ronaldsay in Orkney. It was used sometime between 200 BC and 400 AD.

The long-handled comb has been decorated with roughly incised lines on the handle. It is in good condition, although two teeth are broken off.

Long-handled combs such as this one are found at a number of native sites. Their function is the subject of some debate. Many see them as weaving combs, used to push the weft into place while weaving, but others argue for hair combs, or for combing wool.

Record details

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Online ID: 000-100-038-810-C
Image Rights Holder: National Museums Scotland
Project: 0098: National Museums Scotland
Project description | View all records in project
Ref: National Museums Scotland  X.GO 2
Date: Between 200 BC and 400 AD
Material: Bone; long-handled; wedge shape; one tooth imperfect
Dimensions: 6.25" L
What: Comb, weaving
Who: Dr William Traill
John Traill
Where: Scotland, Orkney, North Ronaldsay, Howmae
Description: Long-handled bone weaving comb from Howmae, North Ronaldsay
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