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sheep wool felt

Tethera, Methera, Tic - Counting Sheep

Repeated daily until 8th May 2012, Old Fulling Mill Museum of Archaeology
26th February - 7th May
An exhibition of felted wool by Ellie Langley, made from wool of the Upper Weardale valley. Items on show will be diverse, and will include a coffin, wedding dress, rugs, yurt, waistcoat, selection of baby items, jewellery and slippers.

Three, four, five – tethera, methera, tic are numbers from the old Weardale sheep scoring system, variations of which were once common throughout Northern England. Sheep and man have shared a long relationship and, until relatively recently, sheep were valued mainly for their wool, a uniquely versatile, renewable and sustainable material.

In recent years the economic value of wool has declined, although the world is now witnessing a modest resurgence in the value placed on all natural fibres, including wool. In the Northern hills of England wool is very much a part of our living heritage, and these hills contain a particularly rich variety of sheep breeds and wools. The Old Fulling Mill, itself a relic of a once thriving wool industry is an ideal setting in which to highlight the beauty, variety and versatility of this incredible fibre.

Ellie Langley lives on a smallholding in Upper Weardale, where she keeps a small and varied flock of sheep. Her work comprises a range of functional felted wool items incorporating only local wools, many from her own sheep, from a wide variety of breeds. Our resourceful ancestors valued wool for the possibilities it offered and Tethera, Methera, Tic seeks to reawaken awareness of some of the many practical uses to which wool has been, and continues to be, put throughout different societies and generations.

Contact archaeology.museum@durham.ac.uk for more information about this event.

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