Blue Ribbon

This document is for the benefit of people who want to learn to weave on the warp-weighted loom. Last update was 17 June 2002. In addition to the bibliography, some of my favorite web picks are listed. Check out the links to historic weaving footage! In the four years since I first put up this page, information on the web about this subject has sprouted up like mushrooms. Two years ago, when I first used a web search utility to help me update this page, there were fewer than 50 links indexed. This time, I waded through nearly 350 links!

This document is a work in progress. It is provided as is without any express or implied warranties. While every effort has been taken to ensure the accuracy of the information contained, the author assumes no responsibility for errors or omissions, or for damages resulting from the use of the information contained herein.

Permission is granted to make and distribute verbatim copies of this document for non-commercial private research purposes provided the copyright notice and this permission notice are preserved on all copies.

Weaving on the Warp-Weighted Loom: Some Source Materials

© 1999, 2001 Carolyn Priest-Dorman

Books and Individual Articles

Barber, E.J.W. "The Peplos of Athena," pp. 103-118 in Jenifer Neils, ed., Goddess and Polis: The Panathenaic Festival in Ancient Athens. Hanover / Princeton: Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College / Princeton University Press, 1992.

Postulates the weaving of a figured tapestry peplos on the warp- weighted loom as an annual gift to the statue of Athena Parthenos. More generally, continues the history of weaving in the Aegean begun in her Prehistoric Textiles. Fascinating for Classicists, even though Barber apparently misunderstands some technical issues such as the attachment of long warps.

Barber, Elisabeth J.W. Prehistoric Textiles: The Development of Cloth in the Neolithic and Bronze Ages with Special Reference to the Aegean. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1991.

Devotes several pages to the warp-weighted loom in antiquity, with extended consideration given to types of loom weights.
Batzer, Anne, and Dokkedal, Lis. "Opstadvæven -- nye forsøgsobservationer," Eksperimentel Arkæologi: Studier i teknologi og kultur, no. 1 (1991), pp. 149-152. Lejre: Historisk-Arkæologisk Forsøgscenter, 1991.
Danish version of the article below.
-----. "The Warp-Weighted Loom: Some New Experimental Notes," pp. 231-234 in Lise Bender Jørgensen and Elisabeth Munksgaard, eds., Archaeological Textiles in Northern Europe: Report from the 4th NESAT Symposium 1.-5. May 1990 in Copenhagen. Tidens Tand 5. Copenhagen: Det Kongelige Danske Kunstakademi, 1992.
Some highlights of the authors' ongoing experiments at Lejre in Denmark, especially with reference to the use of the notched heddle bracket. The authors tie up only one thread per heddle, and they detail their sequence of heddle raising. They also weight each of the four systems individually. Much of this is different from reports of historic Icelandic practice.

Bender Jørgensen, Lise. North European Textiles until AD 1000. Aarhus, Denmark: Aarhus University Press, 1991.

Want to know precisely where in Europe the warp-weighted loom was used? Here you'll find some interesting sections on the geographical and temporal distribution of different loom types. Also includes an extensive catalogue of textiles from North Europe dating from the Neolithic to the year 1000, excluding Scandinavia.

[Council of Europe "Cultural Routes" Programme.] The World of the Vikings, CD-ROM for Windows. York Archaeological Trust, National Museum of Denmark, Multimedia Management and Past Forward, Ltd., 1994.

Two images (60 and 64) of the very attractive warp-weighted loom at the Archaeological Resource Center at York, which is rigged for tabby. Also images of sword beaters of whalebone and wood plus loomweights from several countries.

Friend, Glenda. The Loom Weights. Tell Taannek 1963-1968, vol. 3, fascicule 2. Palestinian Institute of Archaeology, Birzeit University, 1998.

Study and catalogue of loom weights from an archaeological site in the Jezreel Valley. Brings into sharper focus our knowledge of the warp-weighted loom in this region from the early Bronze Age to the Iron Age. Useful bibliography on related Near Eastern subjects.

Guðjónsson, Elsa E. "Járnvarðr Yllir: A Fourth Weapon of the Valkyries in Darraðarljóð?" Textile History 20, no. 2 (1989), pp. 185-97.

Some drawings and photos plus a list of the parts of the loom. Also a side-by-side translation of two verses from a Viking Age saga with an extended weaving metaphor.

-----. "Some aspects of the Icelandic Warp-Weighted Loom, Vefstaður." Textile History 21, no. 2 (1990), pp. 165-179.

Many drawings and photos plus a list of the parts of the loom. Explanations of how to use the skilskaft (shed rod) and hræll (pin beater).

-----. "Warp-Weighted Looms in Iceland and Greenland: Comparison of Mediaeval Loom Parts Excavated in Greenland in 1934 and 1990-1992 to Loom Parts from Eighteenth and Nineteenth Century Warp-Weighted Looms in Iceland, Preliminary Remarks," pp. 178-195 in Gisela Jaacks and Klaus Tidow, eds., Archäologische Texilfunde--Archaeological Textiles: Textilsymposium Neumünster 4.-7.5. 1993. NESAT V. Neumünster: Textilmuseum Neumünster, 1994.

The title says it all: genuine medieval loom parts! Useful information and photos.

Haynes, A. E. "Twill Weaving on the Warp Weighted Loom: Some Technical Considerations." Textile History 6 (1975), pp. 156-164.

Explains why the author thinks that any four-shaft weave is possible on the warp weighted loom, a conclusion that has not been as obvious in the literature as one might think.

Hoffmann, Marta. The Warp-Weighted Loom: Studies in the History and Technology of an Ancient Implement. Oslo: The Norwegian Research Council for Science and the Humanities, 1974 [Robin and Russ Handweavers reprint; original printing 1966, Studia Norvegica 16].

The best book available on the subject, with an excellent bibliography. However, recent experiments with the loom have shed much light on the subject and disproved a few of Hoffmann's theories. The NESAT proceedings are a good source for supplementary information.

Hundt, Hans-Jürgen. Die Textil- und Schnurreste aus der Frühgeschichtlichen wurt Elisenhof. Studien zur Küstenarchäologie Schleswig-Holsteins, Serie A. Elisenhof: Die Ergebnisse der Ausgrabung der Frühgeschichtlichen Marschenseidlung beim Elisenhof in Eiderstedt 1957/58 und 1961/64, Band 4. Frankfurt am Main/Bern: Peter D. Lang, 1981.

Textiles from a proto-Viking Age town (6th to 8th centuries) in Schleswig, North Germany. Details a great variety of starting borders and selvedges. Lots and lots of weaving drafts, extremely clearly illustrated. Rare, but thrilling if you're a lozenge twill or "Dark Ages" freak.

Lindström, Märta. "Medieval Textile Finds in Lund," pp. 179-191 in Lise Bender Jørgensen and Karl Tidow, eds., Textilsymposium Neumünster: Archäologische Textilfunde 6.5-8.5.1981 [NESAT 1]. Neumünster: Textilsymposium Neumünster, 1982.

Textiles from 11th century Lund, including a large number of three-end twills. Some include starting borders from the warp-weighted loom.

-----. "Textilier," pp. 279-292 in Anders W. Mårtensson, ed., Uppgrävt förflutet för PKbanken i Lund: En investering i arkeologi. Archaeologica Lundensia VII. Lund: Kulturhistoriska Museet, 1976.

Photographs and descriptions of eleventh-century starting borders for 2/1 twill that were woven on the warp-weighted loom: a revelation!

MacGregor, Arthur. Anglo-Scandinavian Finds from Lloyds Bank, Pavement, and Other Sites. The Archaeology of York, volume 17, fascicule 3. York: The York Archaeological Trust and the Council for British Archaeology, 1982.

Has a useful section by John Hedges on finds of textiles from York dating to the ninth to eleventh centuries. Hedges also went on record disagreeing with Hoffmann's assertion that 2/1 twill couldn't be woven on the warp-weighted loom. Both archaeological finds and subsequent experiments have proven he was right.

Nielsen, Karen-Hanne Stærmose. Kirkes Væv: Opstandvævens historie og nutidige brug. Forsøg med Fortiden 6. Lejre, Denmark: Historisk- Arkæologisk Forsøgscenter, 1999.

Copiously illustrated, this book ("Circe's Loom" in English) is a valuable supplement to Hoffmann. It considers the warp-weighted loom in several times and places, including ancient Greece and Scandinavia. Photos of historic images of the loom and examples of its related equipment alternate with helpful photos of modern people recreating the steps of weaving on a loom. Ethnographic information on similar types of looms is also well illustrated. A very helpful chart arrays the known ancient Greek depictions of looms, with information on current location and publication information.

Øye, Ingvild. Textile Equipment and Its Working Environment, Bryggen in Bergen c 1150 - 1500. The Bryggen Papers, Main Series, Vol. 2. Oslo: Norwegian University Press, 1988.

Extensive analysis, from a variety of technical perspectives, of nearly 800 weights. Comparative information on Scandinavian weights from an earlier period.

Schlabow, Karl. Der Thorsberger Prachtmantel: Schlüssel zum altgermanischen Webstuhl Veröffentlichungen des Fördervereins Textilmuseum Neumünster e. V., Heft 5. Neumünster: Karl Wachholtz Verlag, 1965.

Very detailed account of the reproduction of a Prachtmantel, or elaborate man's cloak, from the Roman Iron Age in Denmark. Great structural line drawings. However, some of Schlabow's conclusions have since been disproven; recent analysis has also cast doubt on his theories about the simultaneous weaving of a Prachtmantel and its decorative borders.

-----. Textilfunde der Eisenzeit in Norddeutschland. Neumünster: Karl Wachholtz Verlag, 1976.

A goldmine of information on Germanic Iron Age textiles woven on the warp- weighted loom. Wonderful details about setts, weaves, and the clothing made from the texiles. Lots of very clear drawings.

Walton, Penelope. "A Tangled Web." Interim, vol. 13, no. 3 (Autumn 1988), pp. 32-37.

Describes the quick and dirty warp-weighted loom used in the York Archaeological Trust laboratories. It appears to be rigged identically to the one in the diorama at Jorvík, that is, for two-shaft weaving.

-----. "A Weapon of War or a Tool of Peace? An Iron Blade from 16-22 Coppergate." Interim, vol. 14, no. 3 (Autumn 1989), pp. 38-41.

Concludes that the blade in question is an Anglo-Saxon sword-beater for use with the warp-weighted loom.

Walton Rogers, Penelope. Textile Production at 16-22 Coppergate. The Archaeology of York, Volume 17, Fascicule 11. York: York Archaeological Trust and the Council for British Archaeology, 1997.

The first book-length treatment of the history of textile production as it shifted from warp-weighted to treadle loom technologies in northern Europe. Lots of useful information on tools and methods, also loomweights.

Web Sites

Historic Footage


The webscape for warp-weighted loom enthusiasts has changed a lot since the last update, and some very good pages have vanished. The really good diagram of an Icelandic style warp- weighted loom that used to be on Louise Heite's site has vanished, along with the rest of her site, which is a great loss to Icelandic wool fans. Also, the photo of the loom from the National Museum of Iceland that was on-line in the Caprina collection at the University of Maryland has been restricted to on-campus users. Danette Pratt's Warp-Weighted Loom page, with its many pictures of two-shed weaving in progress, is off-line too.

How-Tos and Related Useful Information

Historic Depictions

Scholarly Articles and Bibliographies

Museum Displays

This page was created on 13 December 1998 and last updated on 17 June 2002.

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