Visit to Lund

Monday, August 12, 2013

I was in Lund for a conference. And next to the conference building was the historical museum of Lund. It was filled with late medieval archeological finds. I already knew about some interesting finds because of two books I have:

I actually found all of the objects from these books (from 1937 and 1938!) in the museum. And much, much more! Here are some highlights from the museum (I will focus on the leather because that is my primary interest, but they also have knives, swords, a big collection of wall candle sticks et cetera). The museum has conveniently placed identification numbers at every object so you are not immediately overwhelmed with useful information like the location of the find or the estimated age. Instead, you can look up some information in a database, which is in Swedish but not convenient(at least for me) to use. You can find all kinds of useful information in this database, like the catalogue number and when it was found and what the identification number of the dig site was. Swedish friends, if you know how to use the online database from Kulturen at to extract something useful, please let me know.

This nice dagger scabbard is also described in Kulturen 1937. In this book, they don't show the gold coated chape, so I'm not sure if the one in the museum is original and belonging to the dagger. The leather is original, and decoratively pierced, probably with an awl, through vertical impressed lines. The dagger itself is described on a separate page in the same book, and was also found at a different location during the same excavation, so I'm not sure if the dagher and the scabbard belong together either. The dagger is estimated to be from 1275-1350.

Here is a classic pouch from the 14th and 15th century. It is a rectangular piece of leather, folded in half and sewn on the side edges. At the top, two leather tongs pass through a series of incisions. There are impressed folds between each incision. The harmonica folds don't occur naturally, you have to make them by wetting the leather, using a blunt object to press the lines into the leather and then folding the leather and letting it dry so the leather keeps the folds. This pouch is first sewn together and then turned inside out. in the top right, you can see that one of the ends of the leather thongs broadens and has some stitch holes. It's quite similar to one of the Schleswig pouches. There is also a small hole in the bottom middle of the pouch. Some of these pouches had decorative leather strings attached to the bottom (Schleswig), but it is not clear from this hole if it was made intentional or not.

Here are some nice leather gloves. The two top gloves are working mittens. They are quite large, covering a large part of your wrists. there is a small leather loop sewn in so you can hang them on your belt or on a hook. Very convenient.

This is a very interesting purse that originally had some metal mount and a decorative leather thong passing through a series of slits cut in a semicircle. I don't know from which period it is.

There were many, many shoes. Here is a nice detail of a shoe with an incision, probably deliberate because the shoe was too small for the wearer. Also notice the nice leather edge, very well preserved.

Here is a nice old shoe with the seam on top. This type started in the 9th century and was in that period a 1-piece shoe, so the sole and upper were one piece of leather. Here you can see that the sole is already a separate part, indicating that it's from a later period. This specific shoe isn't in Kulturen 1938, but a similar shoe in the book is dated to the 13th century.

A nice leather belt with gothic letters and a leather knife scabbard. The scabbard is for a broken back seax, so probably not after the 11th century, Kulturen (1937) mentions similarities with the hunting knife of Charles the great, which is from the 10th or 11th century.

Two nice knife handles carved in the shape of a female figure. The left is from ivory, from the 14th century. The right probably as well.

Left: a nice lantern made from copper-alloy sheet. Right: another purse, looks like goat leather, with a single leather tong passing through the slits. It doesn't have clear folds which makes sense when the leather is goat because goat leather doesn't hold impressions very well.

Some random shoemaker stuff, two lasts, some pegs, cutting tools, etc. Too bad that more information on these objects is missing as well, but that seems to be the trend these days in museums: don't give too much information or the visitor might be overwhelmed by it. Don't tell them where we found it, or from what period it is or visitors will get recurring nightmares where they wake up in the middle of the night, sweating and screaming: "1275-1325!!! Lund! Lund! Lund!", while their bodies contort by the violent muscular contractions that renowned scientists from Harvard and Yale have directly linked to unprotected museum visits where the unsuspecting visitor was ruthlessly exposed to extremely high doses of information, forever traumatizing these poor victims whose sole purpose in life now consists of nothing more than either to simply keep living until the next breath is produced by their pulsating bodies or to find a way of making the perfect chocolate topping for whipped cream pie (seen in 14 % of studied subjects).

Left: A large leather pouch. Note that the fold is on the left and it is sewn on the bottom and right. The diagonal line is probably because it was deposited while folded diagonally. The holes are very larges, indicating that it was probably sewn with a leather string. Right: These look like small round pouches.

A small leather pouch, again with a decorative outer seam.

Detail of one of the knife sheaths with fleur-de-lys stamps, which is a common late medieval motif in all of north-west europe. There was also a nice sword scabbard with fleur-de-lys stamps

Detail of the edge of a shoe, with decorative and reinforcing leather thong.

Some of the many shoes in the museum.

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