Sunday, 24 August 2014

Bronze Age Textile Dyeing Connections? Drombeg Stone Circle and Fulacht Fiadh, West Cork, Ireland

Drombeg Stone Circle and Fulacht Fiadh

Ok, so what is possible connections are there with textiles and this ancient Bronze Age communal well, water trough and fireplace (Fulacht Fiadh) next to an earlier stone circle at Drombeg in West Cork, Ireland near where I live? 

The site was excavated in 1957 and experiments showed that the water in the trough could be brought to a boil in 18 minutes by immersing hot stones heated in the fire. There are different interpretations for the function of Fulacht Fiadhs which include; a communal cooking place, perhaps for special festivals/ceremonies, for instance at the Winter Solstice to which the stone circle is aligned; for ritual bathing (the water trough is rather small but there is a stone hut next to it that could well have been used for the Celtic equivalent of the Native American sweat lodge) or; for dyeing wool for woven textiles. Besides the famous woad dye (Isatis tinctoria), first found in the Neolithic, a number of dyes were produced in the bronze age times from local flowers, seaweed and other plants and minerals.

The following extract from an article on natural dye ingredients on the James Hutton Institute website makes reference to possible connections between textiles found in bronze age burials in Xinjiang, China and the Celtic tradition of weaving plaids. 

Bronze age colour and fashion

Never think either that all the people of past ages wore drab, dull clothes - the natural brown, grey and buff colours of hide, fibre and wool. Not much of clothing survives the passage of time, but the mummified corpses from the Qizilchoqa graves in Xinjiang, China, due to the highly dessicated environment they have lain in for around 3000 years, were found dressed in clothing of astonishing colour and style (Mallory & Mair). The weave and pattern of that Bronze Age cloth are said to be similar to those found in the cloths of Iron Age Celtic people of central and western Europe and even to the modern plaids and tartans of Scotland (Barber). The hypothesis has been proposed of a direct line of transmission from the originators of the Bronze Age twills to modern tartans.’

To see and read about the kilims and hand woven woven textiles I have collected visit my website

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