Manchester University

Prehistoric Fibres, Writing up Results

Today I’m writing up the results of research into tree bast and flax fibres. These fibres were common during the Mesolithic and Neolithic in Europe. I am interested in them through my research into prehistoric textiles and basketry.


Since I found out about tree bast fibres, I’ve been curious as how you get fibres from trees and what they’re like. They come from the inner bark of species such as lime, oak, poplar, elm and willow. Over the years I’ve learnt how to extract the fibres and process them so they can be spun into thread. It’s exciting making string from part of a tree!


Beyond processing, I want to find out the properties of these fibres. For this I work with material scientists at Manchester University. Today I’m surrounded by books and papers that I need to write up our research. I also have the graphs of our results on my computer screen.

I’m a Research Associate at the Institute of Archaeology, University College London. Some of my papers can be downloaded here. There is a list of my publications and contact details here. If you have any questions, get in touch.

Gloucester Blackfriars

Hi everyone I’m Heather Sebire, Property Curator for English Heritage in the west of England. My day started with the usual early morning checking of emails and then I paid a site visit to Gloucester Blackfriars which is in EH guardianship. It is one of the most complete surviving friaries of the Dominican  ‘back friars’ in the country  and we have recently undertaken work to enable more of the buildings to be used for concerts and other performing arts. It was magical as there was a rehearsal going on for the Three Choirs festival in the church itself and one almost expected to see the friars appearing at any minute in the cloister.

That was followed by a real treat. I visited Arthur’s stone neolithic burial chamber near Bredwardine in Herefordshire

and then went on to visit the excavations at Dorstone led by Professor Julian Thomas from Manchester University and County Archaeologist Dr Keith Ray. This exciting excavation has revealed large post holes from a neolithic building and a serious of cists which appear to be associated with a long mound. Among the finds were a beautiful polished stone axe, a polished flint axe and a beautiful flint knife. Here is Julian Thomas holding the flint knife.

There is an open day at the site on Sunday 28th (there is a Facebook page I understand).

Tony Fleming, recently retired Inspector of Ancient Monuments with EH was also there visiting (looking very relaxed) with his wife. Wonderful to see great archaeology in action on this special day.

Julian Thomas at Dorstone excavation 26th July 2013

Julian Thomas at Dorstone excavation 26th July 2013


Dorstone excavations 2013

Dorstone excavations 2013

Then I had to head for home and back to the emails-hope you all had a great day!