Nails, Rivets, and Clench Bolts: A Case for Typological Clarity
Zori, Davide (University of California)
Archaeologia Islandica 6 (2007)
This paper reevaluates the current terms and typology used for small functional iron artifacts from medieval northwestern Europe and discusses the advantages of a more uniform terminology for understanding the morphological and functional differences between nails, rivets and clench bolts. Examination of data collected from the National Museum of Iceland illustrates some of the potential typological difficulties that compromise classification of iron artifacts. Examples from English- and Danish-language publications show that these typological difficulties are a common problem across northwestern Europe. Focusing on the inclusion of clench bolts in Viking Age graves, the final section exemplifies the interpretive potential of nuanced iron artifact type identification for yielding insights into a widespread mortuary practice. Finally, the paper presents a revised terminology for nails, rivets, and clench bolts in English, Icelandic, and Danish.