What Vikings really put in their pillows

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What Vikings really put in their pillows

Post by Dragon on Mon Mar 05, 2018 8:51 pm

Not too many people are able to identify birds by examining a single feather. But a number of folks need to know that sort of thing, and it can actually save lives.

Your pillows – if they're not synthetic – are almost certainly filled with domestic goose or duck feathers. These are the most common types of fill used for this purpose today. But our ancestors weren't always as discerning.

"Eagle-owls," says Jørgen Rosvold, a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Archaeology and Cultural History at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) University Museum.

Rosvold is among a handful of individuals in Norway who can identify birds based solely on their feathers. He examined a pillow from a Viking grave and found feathers from Europe's largest owl in it, along with feather residues from a variety of other species.

"This shows that the Vikings valued feathers as an important resource," Rosvold says

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Re: What Vikings really put in their pillows

Post by Dragon on Mon Mar 05, 2018 8:53 pm


Credit: Jørgen Rosvold, NTNU University Museum

Miniscule barbules, the smallest branches of a feather, are examined under a microscope to identify the kind of bird. Here are two different birds. At bottom left is a rock ptarmigan, a type of game bird with rings around its barbules. At bottom right is a mallard with triangular growths at the ends of its barbules.

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Re: What Vikings really put in their pillows

Post by Dragon on Mon Mar 05, 2018 8:54 pm


Credit: Jørgen Rosvold, NTNU University Museum

A well-preserved feather fragment found in a grave from the Viking era, about one centimetre long. Even after many hundreds of years you can see the colours and that this is a feather from a crow.

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