Design-Archaeology: bringing a Pictish inspired drinking horn fitting to life - NMS Research Repository
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Design-Archaeology: bringing a Pictish inspired drinking horn fitting to life

1 June 2015


The Glenmorangie Early Medieval Research Project re-created objects from the period c.300-900AD in collaboration with artists,designers and makers. Contemporary skills and traditional craftswere used, informed directly from the archaeological evidence. This process of re-creation has brought these objects to life again, giving us insights into how they were made, experienced and used.This paper will present the collaborative processes involved in thelatest re-creation of a silver terminal fitting for a large drinkinghorn with researchers and curators Mhairi Maxwell and MartinGoldberg, and designer and maker Jennifer Gray. Digital designand modelling processes were blended with traditional hand-making techniques to re-create the silver zoomorphic fittingInspired by a 2D image on an Early Medieval carved stone and contemporary Pictish silver metalwork. The final piece wasdisplayed as a ‘work in progress’ (illustrating its conception from 3Dmodelling and printing through to the final silver cast object) in theNational Museum of Scotland’s ‘Creative Spirit: Revealing Early Medieval Scotland’ exhibition, from the 25th of October 2013 to the 23rd of February 2014 (Image 1). Our design-archaeology approach towards material culture allowsfor a new way to re-evaluate Early Medieval insular art. Jennifer Gray’s work connects the innovative and traditional methods of re-creation used by the Glenmorangie Research Project; there hasalways been a tension between authentic craft techniquesavailable to the Early Medieval people and new technologiesavailable to us today. In this paper, we will negotiate questionsthat arose of authenticity, transparency and creativity that our particular collaborative approach to recreation.The process of designing and making has added to our understanding of these types of fittings; highlighting the decisionsmade by the maker along the way, their aesthetic qualities and probable functional features of Pictish drinking horn fittings. This piece would not be possible without Jennifer’s experience of bothtraditional and current digital methods. This project demonstrated that new technological approaches can be blended naturally into a piece of work as a means of enhancing what’s gone before –tobring the past alive.


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