Journal of Archaeology in the Low Countries 2-1 (May 2010)Chrystel R. Brandenburgh: Early medieval textile remains from settlements in the Netherlands. An evaluation of textile production
3 Textile production
3.4 Weaving

3.4.2 The fabrics from Dutch settlements

Before discussing signs of specialization in weaving, a brief overview is required of the characteristics of the textiles from the Dutch settlements. This discussion will focus on the different techniques observed and their distribution across time and space.

Among the well-dated sites, nearly 50% of the textiles were woven in a diamond twill (table 7a & b). 2/2 plain twills are also present as a large group, followed by tabby, 2/1 twill, cross twill, herringbone or chevron twill and repp-effect tabby in small quantities. There are considerable differences between the major textile sites of Dokkum, Leens, Westeremden and Middelburg. Dokkum shows the largest variation of weaves, which is not remarkable since this site has yielded nearly twice as many textiles as Leens and three times as many as Westeremden. Dokkum has an equal number of diamond twills and 2/2 plain twills. Westeremden gives a very different picture with a large majority of diamond twills and very few 2/2 plain twills. In contrast, Leens shows considerably more 2/2 plain twills than diamond twills. Among the textiles from Middelburg (12 in total) we only see diamond twill and cross twill.[9] These different ratios among the sites may point to preferences for specific fabrics that were not necessary or required to the same extent at every site. There are considerably more 2/2 plain twills in many sites than previously documented in the diagram by Bender Jørgensen (1992 48, fig. 58).

Diamond twills show many patterns (table 8a). Some sites, like Dokkum, show a considerable variation of pattern repeats. In Westeremden on the other hand, a large majority of diamond twills are woven in pattern repeat 20/18, which points to a certain preference for this pattern there. This preference is also present in settlements across the border, such as Elisenhof and Hessens (Stadt Wilhelmshaven) (Tidow 1995, 359).

Several fabrics are woven in a spin-pattern. These patterns are created using both z- and s-twisted threads in warp or weft. The different direction of the twist of the yarns gives a very subtle but clear pattern. This pattern is present in 10 textiles.[10] All these textiles are rather coarse, the finest being spun in 10 x 8 threads per cm, but most are below 7 threads/cm. The pattern is present in diamond twills, 2/2 and 2/1 twill and tabby.


Table 8a. Distribution of the weaves per site and per group of sites.


Table 8a&b. Graphic representation of distribution of the weaves per site and per group of sites.

Borders or selvedges are observed in 25 textiles (table 9). Many of these borders are not reinforced at all, but are created by weaving the weft-thread immediately back into the fabric. This technique is, not surprisingly, mostly observed in rather coarse fabrics, but it is also present in a few of the finer textiles. Reinforced borders are present in 15 cases. These borders are made in tablet weave creating either a tablet woven band of three to six tablets or a tubular border (fig. 8). An example of a starting border in tablet weave was found at Hoogebeintum.[11]


Table 9a. The types of borders present (table) and the distribution in relation to the thread count of the main weave (graph). X and Y represent numbers of threads per centimeter.


Table 9b.