Early Medieval Leatherwork

On the 16th October 2022, our volunteers and staff attended another heritage skills workshop as part of our National Lottery Heritage Fund funded project Skills from the Past for the Future.

The workshop was delivered by Andy Bates, from Hazelsong Theatre, specialised in heritage crafts, but also traditional music and folk song, and aspects of early medieval history such as Anglo Saxon herbalism and healing. After a first introduction to the development of leatherwork and its Early Medieval context, looking at archaeology and historical documents, different replicas of ancient artefacts produced by Andrew were handled by the group. This allowed a better understanding of this important heritage craft and the ability of recognise different type of leather.

Andy training our volunteers at the workshop

The practical session of the workshop involved working with leather and learning the basic stamping techniques such as moulding and stamping with dedicated tools.

Early-Medieval leather artefacts replicas

A few comments from our post-workshop survey:

“I have never worked with leather before, but now I have some practical experience. It was great to have fascinating lecture about the subject from an expert that touched on the experimental archaeological basis for the designs as well as the practical craft. Very well led and structured. Enough information provided to inspire further study”.

“More please! Thank you very much!”.

“I have learned about moulding leather, shaving edges using an edge cutter tool, stamping…Really great to learn about leather, and how to work it”.