Saturday, 1 February 2014

Making Cordage in Port Meadow - a Beautiful Day!

The weather gods were on our side yesterday as we went out to the dry fields of Port Meadow...

Alright, that's not true.  It looked more like this:

But it was still a beautiful day if you didn't mind the spitting rain in your face! We set out to look for organic materials to gather to make cordage back in the much drier and warmer OxPalTechSoc tent.

Port Meadow is an amazing place - it has been owned by the city of Oxford since the 10th century, and has never been ploughed. Hence it is a unique little ecosystem, with its own Bronze Age round barrows (which are hard to distinguish, as they are just slight lumps on an otherwise flat field - today they were submerged under many feet of water). It is also used for grazing, so you might come across a herd of horses, cows, or the odd fat pony:

When we got to higher and drier Burgess Field, Klint showed us how to find materials with the right properties to strip long fibers:

We then hastily gathered bunches of material (dead stalks from poppy plants seemed to work best), and took them back to the tent, where we sat (steaming as we slowly dried off!), stripped the stalks and twisted the fibers together to make cordage. The cordage was twisted in two strands, which were twisted together the opposite way which meant they locked together. Here are two new professionals at work:

Ringo the OxPalTechSoc mascot was there to help anyone with any questions:

What we were creating looked something like this:

And here is the end result!  One little bundle of very very useful and surprisingly strong cordage - this can be used in trap or snare making, bow making, binding...

Thanks so everyone who was able to make it, we will be meeting next Wednesday at the Pitt Rivers Museum at 14:00, where we will be having an informal look around the collections to see ethnographic examples of cordage, and its applications.  We hope you can make it - an email will be circulating shortly detailing where to meet! Everyone welcome, free for members and £2 for drop-in guests.

See you soon!

1 comment:

  1. awesome! please bring along a few of your Port Meadow creations to Pitt Rivers on Wednesday! would love to see it! :D