Today I started the most interesting project I have this year; to analyse and reconstruct the piled fabric from the Vendel boat grave Valsgärde 6. I did this by going to Uppsala where the original is stored in a museum magazine and sat a whole day studying the fragments.
To the left is an old reconstruction consisting of piled fabric from Valsgärde, made as a pillow. As you can see it has two tags because we actually didn’t know if it was meant to show the piled fabric from Valsgärde 6, or the piled fabric from Valsgärde 7. Beside that question there are many more. Did the fabric really look like this? Was it constructed like this? Was it really a pillow?And more detailed ones: Was the pile that long? Do we know which colours it had, or can we guess which colours it may have had? Was the yarn this coarse? How was the pile fastened to the ground fabric? How was the ground fabric constructed? And actually: Was it really a piled fabric.
There are several remains of the Valsgärde 6 fabric, but most of them are very small and disintegrated, and some of them can be questioned. There was a soumak in the grave too and loose ends of yarn from the soumak can look very much like pile. One fragment which consisted of ground fabric with connected pile was larger than the others and contained much more information, so I concentrated largely on that one. In the same box there was a smaller fragment with connected pile which gave some extra information. I was also able to look at the fragments of pile from Valsgärde 7 to compare and learn more.
This is just the start of the project. I need to study and analyze my many photos more, and do some test weaving, before I can come with any conclusions. The analysis and test weaves should be done by the end of August and the final reconstruction by the end of November. I promise to update you during the project.
Many thanks to Marie Ekstedt Bjersing and Annika Larsson who gave me this opportunity and to Annika and Marie Bengtsson for the support and interesting discussions today.