Linen-smoother of glass and fragments of a bone plaque

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From Perth, Perthshire and Kingscross Point, Arran

Postcard of Linen-smoother of glass and fragments of a bone plaque.
© National Museums Scotland

Linen-smoother of glass and fragments of a bone plaque

Large lumps of glass and bone plaques, found in Viking graves and settlements, were probably used for smoothing linen. This linen-smoother was found at Perth in Perthshire and the plaque is from a grave at Kingscross Point on Arran.

The linen-smoother was made from a single large droplet of black glass. The plaque is ornamented. If complete, it would have provided a smooth surface to wind damp linen cloth around in order to smooth with the glass smoothers.

Glass linen-smoothers were used into the 19th century in Norway and Scotland. They occur in Viking women's graves with other objects relating to textiles. The use of the plaque is less clear, but they also occur in wealthy women's graves in Scandinavia.

Record details

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Online ID: 000-100-043-838-C
Image Rights Holder: National Museums Scotland
Project: 0098: National Museums Scotland
Project description | View all records in project
Ref: National Museums Scotland  X.IL 364
Date: Linen smoother: after 900. Plaque: between 850 and 900
Material: Bone, cetacean; partly ornamented
Glass, black
Dimensions: 3.44" D x 0.44" thick
What: Linen smoother
Where: Scotland, Bute, Arran, Kilbride, Kingscross Point
Scotland, Perthshire, Perth
Description: Decorated whalebone plaque from a grave mound at Kingscross Point, Arran
Linen smoother of black glass, from Perth
  • 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. 26-7. 
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