Historic Pastimes & Musical Instruments

From playing pieces to medieval whistles; this research project is developing a new discrete collection to be displayed in Barley Hall to complement our school’s workshops held there.

A second element of this project has developed resources for JORVIK, where we worked with ancient musicians from the UK and Scandinavia playing replica instruments based on finds from excavations and documentary sources. The resultant videos can be viewed here and also in JORVIK, alongside displays of the instruments themselves, including panpipes, whistles, a bridge from a stringed instrument, ‘buzz-bones’ and an intricately carved bone turning key.


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Games and Recreation c. AD1400-1700, by Nicola Rogers


Musical instruments

  • Bone tuning key found at Coppergate.
  • 'Buzz bones.'
  • 'Buzz bone' made from pig's foot bone.
  • Panpipes made of wood.
  • Lyre bridge made of wood, found at Coppergate.
  • Bone tuning peg. Pegs were used for tuning stringed instruments such as harps and fiddles.
  • Antler tuning peg.
  • Bone tuning peg.
  • Bone whistle.
  • Iron Jew's harp.
  • Iron Jew's harp.

Games and pastimes artefacts

  • An archer’s bracer made of leather protected the bowman’s forearm when an arrow was loosed. The bowling ball is made of wood.
  • Dice were used in medieval games and were made of different materials such as bone jet and ivory.
  • Gaming counters were made of different materials such as stone, fired clay or bone and could have been used for a variety of board games.
  • These pegs were made of bone and antler and were used for tuning stringed instruments such as harps or fiddles.
  • ‘Buzz bones’ made from pig’s foot bones. Threaded on a twisted cord they were made to spin and buzz by pulling the ends of the cord.
  • Bone die.
  • Die made of ivory, found at Coppergate.
  • Jet die.
  • Stone gaming counter.
  • Bone gaming counter found at Hungate.
  • Bone gaming counter.
  • Medieval chess piece made of jet.
  • Medieval bowling ball made of wood.
  • Archer's bracer.

Installing the artefacts at Barley Hall