Leather and Leatherworking in Anglo-Scandinavian and Medieval York

Leather and Leatherworking in Anglo-Scandinavian and Medieval York

By Quita Mould, Ian Carlisle and Esther Cameron

The Archaeology of York, Vol.17 (1993)

Introduction: Leather was one of the most important materials used by pre-industrial societies, The raw materials, hides and skins, were readily available as a by-product of meat provision. After processing, the resultant leather was a highly versatile material, being both strong and flexible, and could be made into a wide range of items. The remains of a large number of these items have been found at York, along with waste material from both the processing of hides and production of artefacts. All were preserved by the unusual anoxic burial environment. The leather described here spans a range of 600 years and provides an insight into one of York’s principal trades during the Anglo-Scandinavian and medieval periods. It is clear that leatherworking was a major component of the local economy during these years. By the late 13th century the leather trades were numerically the most important in York in terms of admissions of freemen of the city, though this was to diminish over the following centuries.

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