Lucet in Viking times

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bone lucet york
Bone Lucet from York. (World of the Vikings CD-ROM)

Lucet or Tvinningsben
( text Sandy Sempel, Frojel Gotlandica)

In 1968 Kerstin Pettersson wrote an article in TOR (vol XII) on a find of a Womans burial from Barshalder, Gr"tlingbo parish, Gotland.
Among the rich textile finds from the grave are two braided cords. They are both square in section and roughly 3-4 mm and 1,5-2 mm across.

The latter was found corroded to the needles in two of the four animal-head brooches in the grave.

The author states that experiments show that a tool with two points a Tvinningsben gave a result close to the original cord.
(Pettersson K. "En gotl"ndsk boneskvinnas dr"kt. Kring ett textilfynd fr+n vikingatiden" p. 174 - 200, TOR XII, 197-68. B. Almgren & I. H"gg (ed) Stockholm 1968) Eketorp-III   ISBN 91-7402-277-6

The needles (more than 250 have been found though some are also Styli) are on pages 153-154, the Tvinningsben (ten of which have been found here) on pages 156-157.


They are described as twining bones used for making coarse yarns and cords.
They have also been found at Lund, Sigtuna, L"ddek"pinge, Gotland and Falsterbohus

as well as York of course.

Very few have any real decoration, they are mostly made from Sheep metatarsus and metacarpus and a disposable tool.

The one from Lund being more the exception than the rule. The inscription in runes reads as tinbl bein possibly meaning twine bone.

These tools are known by several names lucette being Later period French, the Scandinavian names are:-

Tvinningsben = String twisting.
Snoddgaffel: snodd= cord, gaffel = fork hence cord fork
Knytgaffel: knyt= from "knyta" and "knut"= tie, hence tie fork
Slynggaffel: slyng= from "slinga"= coil, hence: coil fork This appears to be the oldest of these terms.

The lucette / Tvinningsben is a smooth multi-pronged implement; more commonly having two prongs but it can have any number.
Most archaeological finds from the Viking age have been bone or horn but any suitable material can be used.

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