Fibrous and flexible plant materials, such as willow, can be used to manufacture baskets and cordage

The researchers examining various willow stems suitable for basketry

Investigating Neolithic and Bronze Age basketry and cordage

Dr Linda Hurcombe, Lucy Williams and Linda Lemieux

Dr Linda Hurcombe, assisted by Lucy Williams and Linda Lemieux (basket maker), worked on a Leverhulme Trust funded project entitled 'Alternative methods for investigating Neolithic and Bronze Age basketry and cordage'. The project aimed to investigate evidence of prehistoric basketry and cordage using inorganic evidence. This achieved by the study of:

  • Skeuomorphic decorative effects on pots mimicking basketry and cordage, by investigating the kinds of technologies and materials depicted and producing reconstructed baskets based on ceramic skeuomorphs.
  • Deliberate or chance impressions of cordage or matting on pots, by identifying the materials and styles of plied cordage and matting/basketry for which these are direct evidence.
  • Wear traces on flint tools that could be related to basketry and cordage production with a view to identifying the tool types (shapes, technologies and edge properties) that might be associated with particular activities.
  • The project focused on small case studies to evaluate the potential of each of these alternative sources of evidence.

The project had some interesting results and the stone evidence is now written up.

Hurcombe, L. (2009) Looking for prehistoric basketry and cordage using inorganic remains: the evidence from stone tools. In L.Longo and N.Skakun (eds) “Prehistoric Technology” 40 years later: Functional Studies and the Russian Legacy.Oxford. BAR IS.