Crafting Day October 2018

Posted by Susan Kruse - 13:44 on 11 October 2018

Our final Experimental Archaeology workshop was held on 6th October at the Black Isle Showground in Muir of Ord. The large venue allowed us to have four activities on the go: two new workshop leaders (basket making with Monique Bervoets, flint knapping and using flint tools with Peter Bye-Jensen), and the return of two earlier workshops (green woodworking with Lachlan McKeggie and striking lead seals with Ian Hammond). It was a busy day, with many people staying hours.

Monique brought a number of baskets to show, many for specialised uses. Although the earliest complete basketry we have is 2000 years old, people must have been making baskets from earliest times. The techniques were also used to make hurdles, necessary for crop protection and used in house construction. People were able to help make hurdles and two baskets for the loans box.


Peter demonstrated flint knapping techniques, and also encouraged people to try using the resulting flint tools to cut and shape some green wood. He also had some illustrations showing use-wear analysis which he has done on some genuine artefacts.

For this workshop Ian unveiled a set of dies and seals made from them reconstructing a find from Cromarty of lead seals on cloth imports from Russia. As he explained, this was not a simple process. He first had to make punches to produce characters from the Cyrillic alphabet and other decoration. Then these punches were used to create the patterns on the dies. Only then was it possible to produce the seals. The activity proved as popular as before.

Lachlan also had a busy time, with people of all ages producing mushrooms/pegs and having a go at other working. He also showed the articles he has made for the loans box: a wooden cup and a spoon.





See previous blogs for flint knapping, green woodworking and lead seals

Basketry resources:


Woven Communities. Basketmaking communities in Scotland
The website discusses regional traditions in Scotland, an illustrated discussion of basket types, museums with good collections, histories, how to make various baskets and much more. Recommended.

ScRAN Pathfinder on basket weaving
Links to a number of resources on the ScRAN website

Scottish Basket Maker’s Circle
Membership organisation promoting basket making. Links to courses, and with a good on-line  library.

Selected Articles

ScARF 2012 ‘4.4 Organics. Plant Fibres’, in Downes, Jane (ed), Bronze Age Panel Report, Scottish Archaeological Research Framework: Society of Antiquaries of Scotland. Available online at

Thornton, Jonathan 2016. Cooking in Baskets using Hot Rocks. Published on

Museums with good collections

Highland Folk Museum (see Woven Communities website). The Museum also has blogs on conserving baskets in their collections


A number of old photos from the late 1800s/1900s show baskets. See eg on Scran

Fife fisherwoman  000-000-573-448-R
Panniers on ponies in Shetland 000-000-003-905-C
Travelling folk making baskets at Grantully, Perthshire   000-000-039-562

ScRAN also has a picture of a Roman hat from Newstead, Roxburghshire (now in the NMS) made with basketry techniques 000-100-037=355


Man weaving baskets
Short video on ScRAN

Da Makkin o’a keshie
Film by Jenny Gilberton made in 1932 where a crofter in the Shetland Isles demonstrates how to make a 'keshie' to carry home his peat.

Monique’s Bervoit's website

The Experimental Archaeology: Learning about technologies in the past project has been funded by Historic Environment Scotland and the Heritage Lottery Fund.







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Archaeology for Communities in the Highlands (ARCH), The Goods Shed, The Old Station, Strathpeffer, Ross-Shire, Scotland IV14 9DH
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