The Nydam Quiver – part 4

A brief recap before finishing the leatherwork, just in case anyone is playing along at home. You’ve probably worked out by now that in the process of making this one, I have developed a dissenting view on Rau’s proposed method of manufacture. Rau had no evidence of splitting or glue from the find site and interpolated them because he couldn’t think of another way to make such a large, hollow item.

Wooden Material and Method

The original is identified as a species of maple, the field maple (Acer campestre) I used is the most likely correct species, based on other finds. Rather than splitting a segment from the trunk or large branch like I did and ended up with warping problems, use a straight, round branch 800mm long and at least 120mm in diameter. Do it green and work quickly. The turning and initial hollowing probably need to be done within a couple of days.

Turn the outside shape, try to keep the centre of the branch as your axis between the lathe centres. This will reduce the chance of severe warping later. When doing the sinew grooves, they aren’t the decorative scratchings shown in the report. They have to be at least 1.5mm deep and 1mm wide to fit the sinew. Wider and deeper is better.

If you’re going to follow Rau’s method, split it now. Don’t saw it the way I did, even a 1mm kerf causes problems later when gluing the halves back together again. Using your choice of gouge, adze, scorp or hook knives, remove the pith from both halves. This reduces the chances of massive cracks forming, you can relax a little now and and take things a little more slowly. You will still need to finish hollowing it over the next few days to avoid the sort of catastrophic warping I had to deal with. Let it dry for a few days to harden up, then go back and tidy up with the knife.

If you prefer my method, clamp it to your workbench and bore out the pith down the full length with an auger, then step up to larger ones until you get the final size. We do know they had spoon augers and shrink pot technology in sufficiently large sizes for this job. I found that I was able to finish the wider section where the fletching goes, and the space where the base fits with a hook knife when it was in the round. You may need to find a friend with small hands.

Whichever method you use for hollowing, when you’re finished, cut and insert the base while the quiver is still green. Hold the base in with well seasoned pegs and as the quiver seasons and shrinks, everything will lock firmly in place. The pegs are necessary because the base sits in a rebate.  This may mean my shrink-pot hypothesis is wrong, because all the shrink-pots I’ve seen have the base with chamfered edges sitting in a V-shaped groove.

Animal products

I could only get bovine silverside tendon, you can extract the sinew using exactly the same process as for deer sinew but the short length means more joins and results in a less elastic and slightly hairer thread.

Twist the sinew into thread and while it is still wet, wrap it around the quiver in the grooves. I found that I had to use hide glue to hold the sinew in place, that may be inexperience on my part, or characteristic of the type of sinew I was using. Rau suggested the glue, I added the pigment to deal with reactivity to humidity and heat.

Having done the binding, I’ll be plying what’s left and using it to sew the leather straps and cover. I’ve made a rosin/wax blend to help the cord stay in place.

Use deer sinew if you can get it. You can thank me later.




Reference: Rau, A., Remarks on Finds of Wooden Quivers from Nydam Mose, Southern Jutland, Denmark, in Archaeologia Baltica 8, 2007, pp141-154.

Earlier parts:

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