Inverness Museum and Art Gallery

Inverness Museum & Art Gallery

Castle Wynd, Inverness, Inverness-shire, IV2 3EB

This was a rather nice small museum and gallery, tucked in at the foot of the castle mound. It manages to fit the whole period from when the earth had just started to cool, through to the week before last into two floors, concentrating on the Highlands. There’s an inevitable Pictish/Celtic slant throughout illustrated with a few quality finds from each location, period and racial grouping of your choice. We spent a wet morning there and managed to identify the snake we’d seen a few days earlier.


Bone pins

Bone dice

Bone die from Urquhart Castle, possibly loaded.

Bone objects from Bernera

Viking sword charm or toy.

Bone objects from Bernera

Shoe toggle and comb plate


Bonnie Prince Charlie dice box
This small copper alloy box with a miniature portrait of Bonnie Prince Charlie, painted in oils on a concealed ‘lid’ hidden beneath the outer kid of the box. It contains three ivory dice.


18th century powder horns

18th century powder horns

18th century powder horns


18th century powder horns


Horn cup 18-19th C

Horn cup with silver rim and mount, Robert Naughten (1786-1857)


Leather shoe sole

Leather shoe sole and reproduction. Castle Street, Inverness

Book binding, first edition Gaelic Bible, Bishop William Bedell. Published 1690
First edition Gaelic Bible, 1690

First edition Gaelic Bible, 1690

First edition Gaelic Bible, 1690

Leather faced Tage

Tage, 18th century, leather on wood with iron nails.

National Museum of Scotland – Bone, Horn and Antler Gallery

Finally. Here’s the long promised skeletal materials gallery from our NMS photos.  Leather finds photos are in another post, and I’ve already done the leatherworker’s toolkit elsewhere. Click on the photos in the gallery them to ennoble if you want a closer view.

The full set of photos contain lots of stone and metalworking as well.

Stone, bronze and iron age

Leatherworking finds
Burnt stones and flint, leatherworker’s rubbing bone fragments and pebbles. Family cist grave, Patrickholm, 2100BC-1750BC

Bone axe-headed pins
Bone axe-headed pins. Orkneys, AD0-600

Roman leather fragments, 100-175AD
Weaving comb and leather fragments. The triangular piece looks like it might have been from a tent. Newstead, 100-175AD

Shuttle and weaving tablets
Bone shuttles, Dun Scurrival and Elsay, horn(?) weaving tablets, Burrian, Jarlshof, Keill, Tain, Keiss 200BC-AD200

Bone dice
Bone dice, Newstead and Sty Wick Bay AD1-200

Weaving combs
Broxmouth, Burgar, Hillswick, Howmae, Newstead and Thrumster, 200BC-AD400

British Leatherworking Tools
Bone, metal and wooden British leatherworking tools. Awls from Ruberslaw, Burrian, Druimvargie Cave, Foshigarry, Knop of Howar, MacArthur Cave, Skara Brae, Torran Dubh, Buiston and Newstead. 8500BC-900AD
Needles from Hillhead, West Grange of Conon and Laws of Monifieth. 300BC-800AD.

Unfinished pieces of bone work

Antler comb making
Making antler combs 200BC-AD800

Comb blanks and flat plates
Comb blanks and flat plates 200BC-AD800

Bone pins
Bone pins, Kerrera, Buiston, Burrian, Jarlshof and North Uist, Covesea. AD500-1100

Bone pins
Bone pins, Skara Brae, Broxmouth, Jarlshof, Roughout.

Bone pins and gaming pieces
Bone pins, AD600-1000 Burrian, Foshigarry, Jarlshof

Bone combs and decorative work
Bone combs, pendants, handles and belt sliders, AD500-1100. H.KL3

Bronze needles and bone cases
Bone needle cases, Freswick and Vallay AD800-1100
Bronze needles and bodkins, Balevullin, Freswick, Newstead, Swandro and Traprain Law 200BC-AD1000
Bronze shears, Loch Erribol, AD1-200.

Pin beaters
Pin beaters used in weaving. A’Cheardach Mhor, Dunbar and Jarlshof. 200BC-AD400

Bone needles and bodkins
Bone needles and bodkins. A’Cheardach Mohr, Burrian, Foshigarrt, Freswick, Jarlshof, Keiss & Newstead. 200BC-AD1000

Game Piece, 8-9th century
I think this little fellow is walrus ivory, a game piece in the shape of a cowled figure from Mail in the Orkneys, AD750-800. He looks similar to the hooded figures shown on the Pictish standing stones of the period.

Pagan Viking grave, Orkney
Bone comb from a pagan male Viking grave from a Viking and native cemetery on Orkney. Eighth-ninth century. The museum shows the grave as excavated.

Bone tools
Bone Mattock, knife and tool handles. Foshigarry, Vallay, Burrian, Cairston and Stromness. 200BC-AD800


Antler comb
Antler comb from a woman’s grave, Cnip, c. AD1000.

Bone needle case
Bone needle case with remains of metal needles. Woman’s grave, Cnip, c. AD1000.

Bonework debris
Bonework debris, Bac Mhic Connain, Borough of Biordsay, Foshigarry, Gurness, Jarlshof and Westray, 4000BC-AD1500

Isle of Lewis Chess pieces - Knight
Knight from the Isle of Lewis chess set. This one’s a token effort. I’ll cover all the pieces in another post as I’ve been chasing them around the various musea that have them. Walrus Ivory, found in Uig, Lewis in 1831. Other pieces are in the British Museum. H.NS19023, H.NS 25-9.

Leather belt pieces and bone awls
Leather belt pieces and bone awls with off-cuts from leatherworking, from Fast Castle, Berwickshire.

Early Modern

Powder horn, James Graham Earl of Montrose
Powder horn belonging to James Graham, 1st Marquess of Montrose (25 October 1612 – 21 May 1650), his arms are engraved in the silver base plate.

Mary Rose Leather Gallery

I’ve finally managed to get organised enough to upload my photos from the Mary Rose Museum. “Mary Rose leatherwork”, or a variant on that theme is in the top 5 searches on this blog nearly every day, so there seems to be some demand for it. The museum features very low light to protect the finds from UV degredation, so the colour in the photos tends to be a bit muddy. Some of them have had a lot of work to pull the image from what at first appeared to be a black frame.

I’ve arranged the photos by item type, starting with archery equipment and then move on to other items. You may have seen some of these photos before but hopefully most of them will be new. The photos also link through to my Flikr account. I’ll update the descriptions when more information becomes available.

Archery Equipment

Archer's arm guard

Leather bracer embossed with the royal arms of Henry VIII.

Two archer's arm guards

Left: Ivory bracer with leather straps. Right: leather bracer, with stamped rosettes.

Leather Mitten 81A3292

Left hand mitten (both mittens found were for the left hand). I suspect these were used to protect the bow hand when shooting fire arrows from a longbow. The triangular shape of the thumb cut out can be clearly seen.

Mary Rose leather mitten 81A3292 1545

Fingertip detail of left hand mitten (both mittens found were for the left hand). 260mm long, 150mm wide at widest point. Unidentified leather, the other one found (81A3292 was sheepskin). The leather was stitched with the flesh sides together, then turned inside out so the seams were hidden/protected.

Mary Rose arrow spacer

Mary Rose arrow spacer. These would commonly be used with a linen canvas bag and be slung off a waist belt.

Mary Rose Arrow Spacer 1545

Mary Rose arrow spacer with the remains of arrow shafts in situ. These would commonly be used with a linen canvas bag and be slung off a waist belt.

Leather Bottles and Buckets

MR 79A1232

Back of Mary Rose leather flask 79A1232, 282mm high, 213mm wide and 57mm deep. Stitching is original and there is still some sealing pitch present. This bottle is asymetrical - the front is much more deeply curved than the back.

Mary Rose leather bottle 81A0881

Mary Rose leather bottle of the costrel form, 81A0881. Front is decorated with three vertical ridges with a double zigzag pattern between the ridges and to either side. There are several pairs of parallel tooled lines including a large inverted V and various rectangles on the base and back. The inside is coated with an unidentified subastance. The photo was taken in low-light conditions inside the museum, colours may not be accurate.

Mary Rose leather bottle 81A1214

Mary Rose leather bottle of the costrel form, 81A1214 was found in a chest along with some personal items and woodworking tools. Front and back are decorated with five pairs of parallel lines from top to bottom, framed by a horizontal line at the base and two parallel lines across the shoulders and neck. There are two asterisks on the base, with a saltaire cross (X) diagonally between them, and a saltaire cross on each end. There are reinforcing pieces in the shoulders/lugs and a gasket piece around the inside of the neck. There is the remains of a waterproof coating on the inside surface.

Reconstructed Mary Rose leather bucket

Reconstructed Mary Rose leather bucket. The leather buckets all have rust marks from iron handle rings and some have the remains of pitch sealing, indicating they were water rather than powder buckets.

Mary Rose Leather Bucket handle detail

Mary Rose Leather Bucket handle close-up


Mary Rose type 1 shoe construction

Height separated welted shoe components from the Mary Rose (possibly 81A1861) showing the way the layers go together. The colour of the label corresponds to the colour code on the chart behind.

Assorted shoe parts

Assorted shoe parts found in the 2002/3 dig.

Mary Rose type 1 shoe quarter

Shoe quarter from a type 1 shoe, displaying a topband in place.

Mary Rose type 1 shoe

Type 1 shoe (high slip on with the throat raised by the extension of the front of the quarters).

Mary Rose type 1 & 2 shoes

Museum display showing the differences between type 1 (high slip ons with the throat raised by the extension of the front of the quarters) and type 2 (slip on shoes with straight throated vamp and straight top edge on the quarters.

Shoe sole made from old bucket

Replacement partial shoe sole cut from an old bucket. The lines of stitching can be clearly seen, and can the incised arrow marking it as the king

Shoe sole cut from old bucket

Replacement partial shoe sole cut from an old bucket. The shaded area indicates which part of the bucket the sole was cut from.

Mary Rose find 79A0877 Type 3 thighboot

Mary Rose type 3 thighboot (rounded toe, turn/welt construction, secured with four straps), there

Mary Rose find 79A0877 Type 3 thighboot

Mary Rose find 79A0877 type 3 thighboot (rounded toe, turn/welt construction, secured with four straps), outer and innersole. There

Scabbards and Furniture

Mary Rose scabbards and furniture

A display of leather scabbards from bollock knives (top, centre) and a rapier (bottom) together with the copper alloy fillings used to support them.

Mary Rose Rapier Scabbard

Rapier scabbard with incised decoration and hanging strap.

Mary Rose Rapier Scabbard

Mid-section of rapier scabbard with incised decoration and hanging strap.

Mary Rose Bollock Knife Scabbard with stamped decoration

Mary Rose bollock knife scabbard with stamped decoration, the scabbard has two compartments, one for the bollock knife and one for a by-knife.


Type 1 leather pouch 81A2685

Fine embossed bovine leather, 275mm x 190mm showing the inner flap and the inside of the outer flap. Outer flap is lined with silk, the inner flap is two layers of leather stitched with the skin sides together.

Type 1 leather pouch 81A2685

Detail of the silk inside of the outer flap of 81A2685, 275mm x 190mm. False colours due to low light levels in the museum.

Type 1 pouch and unknown type pouch

Top:An unidentified Type 1 Leather pouch Bottom: An unidentified leather pouch.

Mary Rose Type 1 Leather pouch 81A1991

Fine embossed calf leather, 278mm x 197mm. The inner flap is plain. Type 1 pouches have two sections for storage, the larger is the same width and height as the outside of the pouch, the smaller is stitched in position between the inner and outer flap. Unlike the other type 1s, this one has a third pouch in front of the others.