Reconstructing fabrics used in the clothing of “Kukruse Woman” from the late 12th century: A craftsperson’s perspective
This article focuses on the reconstruction of fabrics based on archaeological finds. When a woman’s grave from the late twelfth century AD (Kukruse Burial VI) was unearthed at Kukruse in eastern Estonia, archaeologists involved experts from various fields in studying the materials that were found in the grave – from natural scientists to textile researchers. A set of clothing was reproduced from what was found in the grave of the “Kukruse Woman”.
The grave that served as the basis for this study featured plentiful amounts of jewellery and bronze embellishments, but textile remains were extremely scarce. It was for this reason that, when it came to weaving the fabrics, other archaeological textile finds that date back to the same period had to be relied on to a degree. The aim was to achieve a visual resemblance to the historic fabric. When weaving the woollen fabrics, the yarn used was from the wool of an ancient Estonian sheep breed, the native Kihnu type, which was spun in a way that is customary for contemporary woollen mills. In order to obtain the required shade of blue, synthetic dyes were used on the yarn. The tools used met the needs of a modern weaver and increased the efficiency of the work. This article interprets handicraft skills on the basis of the crafter’s personal experience, primarily from a weaver’s perspective. Reconstructing an ancient fabric includes not only reproducing the item itself, but also the process of studying and recreating inherited skills that had since been lost.
Keywords: woollen fabric, reconstructing clothing, archaeological textile finds, weaving