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Jim Bright is one of our Masters students working with some of the objects unearthed at the site. He is investigating the Iron Age landscape in Orkney. One of the fascinating objects he is working on was found during last year’s excavation-a 6cm long whale tooth.Martin Carruthers, Site Director, sheds light on the object and the working life of the broch....”The whale tooth was found in a context associated with metalworking in one of the trenches at The Cairns. Whale-tooth is fairly often used in the production of quite complex composite items during the Iron Age, such as pommels or hilt guards for iron blades like swords and knives. It’s possible that this was such a composite part of that kind of object, but any kind of diagnostic feature is missing due to the breakage pattern. It might have been part of a composite object that’s been stripped down for recycling the metal and the whale tooth was discarded, or it may have been destined for such an object but broke before it could be finished.”
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