Object in Focus

A knee or shoe buckle from early modern Oulu

An early modern buckle with unusual details, discovered from urban archaeological excavations in Oulu, Finland (image by: Tiina Kukkoanen)







Prepared by: Tiina Kuokkanen, University of Oulu, Finland

Read the full paper here.

This 31 mm high and 24 mm wide buckle consists of an iron frame and a pewter double tongue, which is 12 mm long. About one quarter of the frame is missing. Possible the frame may originally have been double-framed, as the small overhangs around the tongue could be part of another loop. Alternatively the small overhangs could be decoration and corrosion around it.

The buckle was discovered from urban archaeological excavations at the NMKY (YMCA) site in the center of the town of Oulu. In the early days of the town this area didn’t belong to the richest part of the town, but it was located just next to the cathedral. The reputation of the area improved in the next century; the oldest known inhabitant of the area Klaus Klaunpoika Jederjan, who died in 1704, was the richest merchant in the town. At the eighteenth century the nearby church block included the town hall, market place and the most houses of the most significant persons of the town. Most artefacts in the assemblage have been dated to the seventeenth century, but some artefacts are also dated to the eighteenth and to the end of the nineteenth centuries. According to the building remnants, artefacts and old maps, the area has been settled from the beginning of the seventeenth century.

If the buckle is vertically orientated, then the orientation and the size are typical to early modern knee buckles, although the material is not and the shape is also unusual. In this buckle it consists only of double tongue, which is attached directly to the frame. The item does not have a roll or pin, so one typical feature of knee buckles, the anchor roll, is missing. Another interpretation is that this is a double-framed eight-loop shoe buckle from the first half of seventeenth century, in which case the orientation would be horizontal and the tongue would have been attached to the pin. This kind of a shoe buckle shape is really uncommon both in European and American contexts.




Related material (visual, textual sources)

Textual sources

Tiina Kuokkanen, Sanna Lipkin. ”Hauta-asut elämän kuvaajina – Oulun tuomiokirkon kuolinpuvuista”. Harmaata näkyvissä. Kirsti Paavolan juhlakirja. Toim. Janne Ikäheimo, Risto Nurmi, Reija Satokangas. Oulu 2011, p. 149–163.
Tiina Kuokkanen, Titta Kallio-Seppä, Risto Nurmi, Timo Ylimaunu. ”An approach to personal adornments in early modern gender performance”.  Interarchaeologica 4 (in press).

Visual sources

An early modern buckle with unusual details, discovered from urban archaeological excavations in Oulu, Finland (image by: Tiina Kukkoanen)





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