The Tablet Woven Band from the Snartemo II Grave

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Copyright © 2008 Shelagh Lewins.


The Snartemo II band is easy to weave and looks smart. The original was woven in wool using 17 tablets and two colours of fine wool. It is an example of two-hole weave.

Snartemo II Band in Wool

Figure 1: My reproduction of the Snartemo II band. Click for a larger picture.

Snartemo II Band in Linen

Figure 2: The pattern woven in linen with an eight-tablet border. Click for a larger picture.

The Historic Band

Lise Raeder Knudson very kindly provided the following information about the original band, and confirmed that my reconstructed is correctly woven. The colours I used are a guess but are reasonably consistent with the information supplied by Lise - I assumed that the colours were brighter when the band was new.

"The Snartemo burials yielded two graves with well preserved textile remains and several tablet weavings. The dating is about 500 A.D. The finding place is Hægebostad in the southern part of Norway. Snartemo II was a rich grave which among many other things contained a small tablet woven band in 2 colors with a simple threaded in pattern.

In Bjørn Hougens book "Snartemofunnene" 1935 a drawing is shown, but the analysis is not correct. I have studied the original find and made a new analysis. Unfortunately I haven't done much about trying to translate and publish my thesis, so it is not commercially available.

The band's width is 0.9 cm. The colours looks very much alike, but under a microscope there is a difference between the yarns. Unfortunately there are no dye analyses yet."

Lise provided a picture of the threading diagram (below) with the accompanying text:

"24 times forward, 24 times backwards etc.

17 tablets, 5 with 4 threads, 12 with 2 threads, 5 edge tablets, one of these invisible and presumably used in a kind of invisible sewing mounting to a cloth."

Snartemo II diagram

Figure 3: Threading of original band.


Pattern Tablets

The band is woven using twelve pattern tablets. Each is threaded identically and continuous warping is (as usual!) recommended.

Thread each tablet with one light and one dark thread, in opposite corners. Leave the other two holes empty.

Arrange the tablets according to the picture below. Tablets 4-6 are a mirror image of tablets 1-3. Tablets 7-12 are a repeat of 1-6.

Threading and Arrangement of tablets

Figure 4: Threading and arrangement of pattern tablets.

Border Tablets

A border is essential to keep the band stable and give it a firm edge. The original band had a border of two tablets on one side and three on the other. The extra border tablet is invisible and I have woven my band with a border of two tablets on each side, alternately threaded S, Z. All border tablets are threaded with four threads of the dark pattern colour.


Weave by turning all tablets forwards together. Be careful when turning: because of the unthreaded holes, the tablets are unstable and will tend to drop and turn rather than stay in position. Tie a piece of string around the tablets whenever you pause weaving and you should be ok.

After 24 turns, you will have woven 6 of the "W" motifs. Make sure you start counting at the end of a "W" - check the picture of the woven band for reference. Then flip every pattern tablet so that the threading is reversed - S tablets become Z and vice versa. This will reverse the pattern for the next 24 picks. Repeat!

Instead of flipping the tablets you could of course turn the pattern tablets backwards and the border tablets forwards for 24 picks. Both methods will produce exactly the same woven band: there is no way to tell which method was used to weave the original. I personally find it hard to remember whether I should be turning forwards or backwards and so prefer to flip all the tablets and always turn forwards.

When the threads of the border tablets become significantly twisted, flip them so that S becomes Z and vice versa. As you continue to weave, the border tablets will gradually untwist.

Shelagh Lewins

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