A&S Championship and Display 2022: Tiffan Fairamay

East Kingdom Wikihttps://wiki.eastkingdom.org/wiki/Tiffan_Fairamay

Full documentationhttps://thornandthread.wordpress.com/2022/01/07/steatite-lamp-from-viking-age-shetland/

Video: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1SHP7SzIRh9OeWvk4Sl8F5tW55UPgWAGS/view?usp=sharing

This project explores the historical context of the hanging steatite lamps found in the Viking age farming settlement of Jarlshof, in Shetland, as well as my own experiments with their manufacture and use.

I relied mostly on a carving knife and small chisel to shape pieces of steatite (soapstone), also employing a wood hand saw, file, hand crank drill and bit. Carving the lamps took care and patience, and getting them to hang evenly from the two holes was the trickiest part of the process. While using the lamps, I found that cod liver oil with a twisted flax wick burned cleanly and brightly, and that even 2 teaspoons of oil would burn for more than an hour.

These lamps have captured my imagination since I was young, and this project has provided a fantastic opportunity to deepen my understanding of the place they are from and people who made them. I have a whole new appreciation for the unique nature of the Jarlshof site, and am left with so many new questions about the people who lived there and the things that they made.

7 thoughts on “A&S Championship and Display 2022: Tiffan Fairamay

    1. Thank you for the kind words! I’ve really enjoyed getting to know more about soapstone carving, it’s so fun to work with. Thanks for visiting my display!

  1. These are beautiful, and I love your documentation — I learned a whole lot! Thank you! I’ve never carved soapstone/steatite, but now I’m really curious to research steatite loom weights and see if I can make some…

    1. Yay! You are most welcome! I’m so glad to share what I’ve learned. The Hamilton book has illustrations of many loom weights from Jarlshof, but I’m sure there are many other sites where they’ve also been found. So much fun! Best wishes for your explorations!

  2. This style of lamp as it evolved later in the medieval period has always been an interest to me, but I have never seen such exquisite re-production!!
    Now this is going to force me to research further, because I love the soapstone version. Thank-you for the push, and this is just outstanding!

    1. I’m very glad to help give you a nudge! The lamps, and stone itself, are really inspiring. And there’s so much to be curious about. I so appreciate your kind words and encouragement, and can hardly wait to see what you learn with your research!

  3. These lamps are lovely. Artificial lighting is a sometimes under-appreciated aspect of historical society and it’s great to see something bringing more focus to these everyday items.

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