Perth’s Silken Treasures

Monday 22nd May 2023

One of the treasures excavated from medieval Perth (in Kirk Close) is this piece of gold- coloured silk with a repeating pattern of a pair of birds.

Fig 1

The Perth silk fragment after conservation treatment, detail of a bird pair

It has been preserved by the waterlogged conditions underneath the city. Such luxurious were made in the Eastern Mediterranean and Spain. Wealthy elites might dress in full tunics of such expensive material. Less wealthy folks might buy small pieces of patterned silk and sew them onto their coarser woollen garments. When cut-up such textiles were also used for making purses and small bags for holy relics or simply as wrappings for such relics.

Working with a silk mill in Florence, Italy: Fondazione Arte della Seta Lisio, Firenze, ( we have had a replica length of the textile made to show how the Perth fragment may have originally looked.

Fig 2

The recreated Perth silk fragment nearing completion on the loom

This short video shows the fabric being made on a traditional hand operated loom.

We look forward to showing the finished fabric, alongside the original, in the new Perth Museum, when it opens in the spring of 2024.