Snartemo and Snartemo V Grave Findings
The Snartemo V band was found in a late 6th century gravesite outside of Snartemo, Norway. Snartemo is a small village near the southern tip of Norway with many archaeological sites nearby that have yielded numerous historical artifacts. The original band is currently in the holding of the University of Oslo. According to Collingwood, the original Snartemo V band was approximately 5cm wide and woven using 56 cards.
The gravesite has been thought to be that of a prince or another high-ranking person, due to the quality of the grave goods found. The Snartemo Sword, also located within the Snartemo V grave, is a fine example of a migration-period ring-hilt sword, and the hilt fittings and guard are richly decorated with gold and intricate carvings. The Snartemo Barrow was found in 1933 by farmers preparing to plow their fields, under a stone slab. Inside they discovered the sword, a complete weapon set, a silver-mounted glass beaker, a bronze kettle and a gold ring, a bowl-weight of bronze, 3 weights of lead, rare patterned fabrics like the Snartemo band, and bear claws.
About the Snartemo Technique
Snartemo has become a name for a specific technique of tablet weaving, involving having a card threaded with three or four colors, with all cards being threaded in the same manner with colors being staggered so that when all the cards are turned together, the pattern will form diagonal lines. You change colors by rotating each card one quarter of a full turn, with each card being turned individually rather than as a group. While weaving the pattern, you can only turn one quarter turn at a time, so attention must be paid when plotting out your pattern to make sure you have chosen the next color in sequence accordingly. The patterns come from long floats, alternating turning your cards forward and backward, keeping that color thread on top of the weave surface. Longer floats are seen throughout the band, but since the band was made from wool, the threads tend to stick to each other more than other fibers, and over time will felt together, creating a more solid surface, without the fear of snagging the individual floats.
About My Band
This band was woven using 56 tablets (40 pattern tablets threaded S, 16 border tablets threaded S/Z), using a pattern taken from Randi Stoltz and adapted by me. The materials used are 20/2 wool thread in red, green, blue and yellow. It was woven using a box loom, wooden cards, and a bone shuttle. The width of my band is approximately 3.5 centimeters. I adapted the original pattern by altering certain elements. Swastikas were a historical design element seen with this kind of item, but I have altered them slightly due to modern cultural sensitivities.
What I Learned
While creating this band I learned much about the Snartemo technique, which led me to learn how to adapt the pattern while adhering to the rules of the technique. Learning Snartemo was my first experience working with wool thread as opposed to using cotton, silk, or bamboo. It gave me a greater appreciation for the spinning as well as the weaving abilities of period artisans.
What I’d Do Differently
As with any band, tension is important. More experienced weavers of this technique will have motifs that are more square on-point, rather than having an elongated diamond shape. As my technique has refined and improved, I am able to work with less tension on the warp threads, and this allows me to achieve a more balanced and proportional look to my design motifs. Also, as there is a size discrepancy between the original band (5cm width) and my band (3.5 cm width), I would use a thicker thread, more like a 15/2, to help achieve the approximate size of the original band.
Due to a recent controversy within the SCA, this historic band is being seen by many people, not just tablet weavers. Some parts of the original band include swastikas, which while they were an acceptable symbol at the time, have been rendered inappropriate due to their use by the Nazis during World War 2 as well as their continued use by modern hate groups.
It was only after this controversy broke that people began to make comments about the “H H” on the band. While weaving and displaying the in-progress band, no one had mentioned anything regarding the “H H”, possibly because without the swastikas, they just appear to be another geometric pattern. I had never even thought of them as H’s, but thought they were I’s. After seeing this mentioned, I looked up additional information on the rune used, “ᚺ” or “Hagall” in the Elder Futhark alphabet, which was used in Scandinavia from the 2nd to the 8th centuries CE. I am not completely convinced that this is what the symbol is.
As I was unaware of the potential offensive nature of the symbol, the H’s are still used intact in my band. If I were to weave this band again, I would think about changing the pattern to better adjust for cultural sensitivities.
Collingwood, Peter. The Techniques of Tablet Weaving. Echo Point Books & Media, 2015.
Snartemo V Pattern from Randi Stoltz: http://spotstudio.no/randi_wp/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/Snartemo2017Oktober1.pdf
Website: “Public Medievalist – Not a Good Look: The SCA Swastika Incident” https://www.publicmedievalist.com/sca-swastika/
Special thanks to Duchess Bridget Lucia MacKenzie of Caid for research assistance.