My life as a museum novice – Getting my hands dirty!

Now into her third month at the Crannog, Ellen Pryde describes some of the tasks she’s been undertaking as part of her Museum Galleries Scotland Skills for Success Programme.

Over the past couple of months, I’ve had several opportunities to get stuck in with some “experimental archaeology” across the site.  I’ve spent time dying wool and spinning it into thread, had days filled with making spiral jewellery at outreach programmes in the local area, and even helped with building a smoker oven in our cooking shelter.  When you think of working in a museum, you don’t always expect to be getting your hands dirty – literally!

At the Crannog Centre, there’s always something crafty to learn if you’re willing to spend a little time and patience to figure it out.  I recently spend a day making a small piece of rope in between tours and chatting to visitors.  It’s not enough to tie anything together with but the sense of achievement is still well worth the effort.  What it really makes you appreciate is how much time you can put into making something, even if it’s just a practice piece of rope (which is now attached to my garb like my most prized possession!).  It also gives you a real sense of how long the people in the Iron Age would have spent making their own possessions – whether that be their home or their clothes or their tools.  Everything had to be handcrafted, prepped and laboured over for hours or even days.  It really does make you appreciate the things you own because you probably didn’t have to make them!

In the coming year, there will be even more crafty tasks to be learnt – from manipulating metal to tablet weaving to woodworking: I might be able to furnish the whole Crannog by summer …


All items I’ve crafted:  dyed wool thread, spiral pendant, rush reed rope, double spiral ring