One good thing about being an archaeologist is that you get really good at finding small things! The team from Dr VC&A found these needles and other sewing items at the Jones Lane archaeological dig site after the removal of the Wesley Church Carpark.
Underneath the carpark homes dating to the mid-1800s were excavated and like most houses of this era there were a number of artefacts associated with sewing and craft. The lace making bobbins were hand-carved from bone, and the copper alloy pins may have been made as part of cottage industry – people making items from their homes.
Thimbles like this one were often given as gifts, and sometimes had inscriptions such as “Blessings to you” and similar. These artefacts indicate that people were mending or making their own garments at home, or possibly that they were engaged in home industry, such as lacemaking, in order to supplement their income.
Remember this is before the days when you could pop down the your local shopping centre to buy new clothes, people mended what they had and often made their clothes from scratch!