8.3 Merovingian period
The bone tools from the Merovingian, Carolingian and Ottonian periods from the other terpen are shown in table 7 under the heading ‘Early Middle Ages’ because tools from some terpen were not dated precisely enough to place them into a specific period. The excavated early medieval settlement areas at Dongjum, Hallum, Leeuwarden-Oldehoofsterkerkhof, Wierum and Englum were each smaller, but together larger than that of Wijnaldum-Tjitsma. Water-sieving was done at Englum but did not result in many bone and antler tools. The site of Oosterbeintum is a cemetery that was carefully excavated and where wet-sieving was part of the methodology.
At Merovingian Dongjum we find a horse metacarpus skate and a worked sheep costa (GIA unpublished). A bone needle from Hallum dates to Merovingian or Carolingian times (Buitenhuis 2009). Thirteen presumably Early Medieval tuning pins found at Hallum (Van Vilsteren 1987, 56) suggest an elite population at this terp.
Graves at Oosterbeintum, which was in use between AD 400 and 750, contained bone and antler grave goods that date to the Migration and Merovingian periods. These are a bone needle, three spindle whorls (one antler and two cattle capita femoris), seven composite combs, a pin, two beads, a pendant/amulet, two wolf teeth attached to a chatelaine and 5-7 knuckle bones (Knol et al. 1996). These grave goods fall into the categories of fibre and skin working tools, personal utensils and amulets. Two combs can be identified on the basis of the comb typology employed at Wijnaldum-Tjitsma. The two-sided composite comb from grave 422 dates to the Migration period. The comb with narrow, straight side plates from grave 5 belongs to Wijnaldum type 3, dating to Carolingian and Ottonian periods.
From Migration and Merovingian Leeuwarden-Oldehoofsterkerkhof we have a cattle metacarpus used as a polisher, fragments of about four two-sided composite antler combs and a broken skate from a horse metatarsus (Prummel 2011).
Bone working is attested to in the Merovingian phase of Wierum by the sawn distal end of a cattle metatarsus (Prummel 2006). Two fibre or skin processing tools from Englum date to the Migration or the Merovingian period: a cattle metacarpus used as a polishing or rubbing tool and the tip of an awl made from a sheep tibia. These findings suggest that fibre and/or skin working was done at Englum during one or both of these periods. A one-sided composite antler comb with triangular side plates from this terp, both of them decorated with parallel lines and point-circles, is Merovingian in date (Prummel 2008). Amulets, musical instruments and household utensils, which are quite numerous at Wijnaldum-Tjitsma in the Merovingian period (tables 1 and 3), are absent in other contemporary terpen, with the exception of Hallum (the tuning pins).