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Spindle Whorls (under construction)



Domed lead spindle whorls are generally Roman but go through to the post medieval period. Before the use of spinning wheels, spinning was carried out with a spindle and a whorl. The spindle, or rod, usually had a swelling on which the whorl was fitted. A wisp of prepared wool was twisted around the spindle, which was then spun and allowed to drop. The whorl, acting like a flywheel adds momentum to the spindle. By doing this the fibres were extended and twisted into a yarn


We find dozens of lead spindle whorls but this is only the second decorated one we have found. This however could be a very important find as this spindle whorl appears to have early writing on it and that is very rare- one for the museum to look at further

32.4g 25.15mm dia

Various whorls found here

Medieval decorated type

Spindle whorl found at Buckquoy, Orkney

Decorated Celtic La Tène II spindle whorl, a torus-like shape angled to provide a medial rib. It is cast in lead, 1.5 cm high and 2.8 cm in diameter, the hole tapered for insertion of the spindle


Period: Medieval / Middle Ages

Spindle whorls were used as weights on a hand-held distaff or spinning stick.  They are amongst the most common Medieval finds.  The majority of whorls were made from stone or recycled pot but some, like the example shown here, are cast lead.  Metal whorls may have continued in use into the post-Medieval period.

 Lead spindle whorl, slightly domed, decorated on both faces with a pattern of raised rings and pellets with raised lines or bands.  The outer edge is defined by a raised, fluted border.