Bone and antler combs: towards a methodology for the understanding of trade and identity in Viking Age England and Scotland

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


  • S.P. Ashby
  • H. Luik (Editor)
  • A.M. Choyke (Editor)
  • C.E. Batey (Editor)
  • L. Lougas (Editor)


Publication details

Title of host publicationFrom Hooves to Horns, from Mollusc to Mammoth: Manufacture and Use of Bone Artefacts from Prehistoric Times to the Present
DatePublished - 2005
Number of pages7
PublisherUniversity of Tartu
Place of PublicationTallinn
VolumeProceedings of the 4th Meeting of the Worked Bone Research Group, Tallinn, Estonia, August 2003
Original languageEnglish
ISBN (Print)ISBN-13: 978-9985-50-383-6

Publication series

NameMuinasaja Teadus
PublisherUniversity of Tartu


This paper outlines the methodology of a doctoral research project at the University of York. The medium of study is the bone and antler hair comb, and the approach is one of integration. The project’s aims are twofold: to elucidate the means of distribution of these artefacts, and to develop our understanding of identity in Viking Age England and Scotland. The first phase of the project involves the review of methods of raw material analysis, whereby new and established identification criteria will be tested on a large sample of modern material. Should the results prove promising, the techniques will be employed in a study of combs from Viking Age contexts in northern England and Scotland. These zoologically-based methods will then be integrated with techniques taken from other areas of artefact analysis. Style and manufacture will be investigated through a variety of statistical and map-based techniques. These fine-grained analyses will develop our understanding of the way in which these objects were produced and exchanged. Building from these bases, a study of context and associations, together with a review of ethnohistoric evidence from the period, should help to elucidate the comb’s role in the construction of identity.

Bibliographical note

Uploaded with permission from the editor-in-chief of the series Muinasaja teadus

Discover related content

Find related publications, people, projects, datasets and more using interactive charts.

View graph of relations