|It has been agreed upon, that one of the first
articles of clothing was from a woven/felted or simple felted type of cloth. Since
Adam saw his own nakedness, people have searched for ways to cover themselves.
Anthropology has brought the studies of all aspect of human lives for us to know.
What about the oldest ways of making cloth?
One can find in Greece and
Roman much evidence pointing to the fact that basins or tubs were used for washing,
fulling and/or bleaching of cloth. Ancient writers describe for us several
observations on just how those chores may have been done.
We have been able to see where people of the ancient times worshipped, buried their
dead, made their homes. WE have seen evidence of their tools and hand implements.
But, everyone wore clothing! Making cloth, via weaver or felting has many
steps and therefore a larger area must be used to indeed make the fabric. But where?
In Ireland, the possibility could be the Fulacht Fiadh. Traditionally,
meaning cooking place or cooking the deer, the fiadh has always been known to be a
pit for baking or boiling meat. There are many of these fulacht fiadh, also known as
Burning Mounds, to be found. Many a construction of a road or shopping center
has been stopped upon discovering another of these ancient treasures. They are
fascinating to read about.
In Sweden, the Skarvstenhogar (lacking the correct vowel characters) are similar to the
Fulacht Fiadh. Swedish archeologist as finding more of these however, their
literature is either not yet translated into English, or I just can not find any.
Denmark has a passion for felting arts over the centuries and their word for the same
Fulacht Fiadh is Kogensrose. I am searching for more Danish descriptions as well.
Norway has it's Koksteinroyser and it is difficult if not impossible to discover
writings on this subject.
One can still look to the Mongolian and surrounding areas for modern felting methods
and a fascinating history of felting as a primary event of their lives. This
material is great and can easily be found both on the internet and in your library.
However, the Fulacht Fiadh is a controversial landmark currently. Along with the
known facts that the Fiadhs were indeed used for cooking, it is quite logical to project
that this specially designed place was used for other than cooking.
There are several researchers who have actually duplicated the Fulacht Fiadh and tested
many ideas on them. Our interest, of course, is the possibility that the Fulacht
Fiadh was also used for dyeing, felting, fulling, bleaching and or laundering animal
fibers. Well, it was done somewhere.
Some of the other ideas are that these areas were use for bathing rituals, sacrificial
rituals, crematories of sorts, and a few less probable possibilities as well.
The Fulacht Fiadh is generally a horseshoe shape. Always near a source of flowing
water. There is always a large pile of large stones/boulders that have been burned
or scorched through their use as hot rocks... heated to glowing and then rolled into the
water of the pit. However, there is not always evidence of food cooking near these sights.
One would expect to find a garbage place full of bones, possibly hides, or cooking
utensils of sorts, but this is not the case. AS a matter of fact, less than half of
the fulacht fiadh have evidence in the close vicinity to prove that it was a place for
cooking and eating. Of course years have gone by and the soil composition along with
the weather has surely helped to erase some of these items.
It is interesting to note, that large amounts of fullers soap or diatomaceous earth has
been discovered near many of the fiadh. In the process of felting, for instance, the
fullers soap was heaped upon the fibers in the heated water and trampled on by foot.
The fullers soap is ground into the fibers cleaning as well as chemically helping
the process. Urine was kept nearby in large containers as it was added to the
mixture changing the pH of the water and helping to complete the process.
There have been studies done, no conclusions yet, to try to identify the types of
animal fats that have been found in the earth near many of these fiadh. It is
obvious why one would find animal fats from cooking but how is that related to fulling?
There are theories, I have not found written evidence, that lard was actually
tromped into the fulled fabric to help with waterproofing of the fibers. This might
seem a bit odd since it is a well known given, that wool is very waterproof on it's own
There is just so much more to relate on the idea that the Fulacht Fiadh may have been
used for fabric processing but, as of today, I have not found the time to organize my
information and document it to give the true researches credit. That is one of my
goals on my too long list.
Keep in touch.