Gunnister Man

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Shetland Museum picture showing the Gunnister Man's clothes and other articles, showing the full clothing.
Close up of the coins in the purse
Photo from Shetland Museum and Archives.
The Gunnister Man's clothes and other articles, a closeup showing the items found along with the body.
From top left of the photo these are: cap, next to cap is piece of skull with hair and below that hair: to right of that is a wooden pail, directly in front of the pail the 3 long objects are bones and directly in front of the right hand bone the small irregular shaped object is a purse: To right of pail are two flat pieces of wood. In front of smallest flat wood (from back to front) are - pail hoop, belt fragment, quill and horn, two hoop fragments. In front of smallest flat wood are - spoon, three unidentified items. In top right corner is another cap. Running across the full centre of the photograph is a wooden stick. At bottom left, lying on a paper bag, are pieces of peat moor; the piece lying in the bottom left hand corner was labelled "liver" in the original photograph! To the right of this are 3 coins: top right to these, two pieces string. Right of that, belt fragment. Right of this large irregular piece skin (rivlins). Bottom right is knife handle.
Photo from Shetland Museum and Archives.

The body of what later has been known as the Gunnister Man, was found by two Shetlanders in a peat bog not far from the junction of A970 and the road to Gunnister/Nibon, Northmavine, on the 12 of May 1951.
The body is now believed to date from the early 18th century. Some knitted items found with the body are believed to be the earliest examples of knitting in Shetland.
The man was well and warm dessed, in jacket and a long cloak or "justaucorps", and with long knitted gloves, so it is believed that he died in winter, but it's still an unsolved mystery what happened to him, and if he was a Shetlander, or he was a visitor who came from someplace else.
The links below shows more details of his clothes.



External links

In September 2009, the Gunnister Man is returning home from the National Museum of Scotland, for a major exhibition in Shetland Museum.
The exhibition will feature both the original items, as well as a full set of replicas that show the man as he looked at the time he was alive.
The exhibition starts at the 12th of September and last until the 1st of November.

The Shetland Museum is holding a conference to explore the mystery surrounding the Gunnister Man on the 18th and 19th September.
See this link for more details.



The knitted items

Several knitted items were found, the originals are held by National Museums of Scotland in Edinburgh.
Replicas of them has been made and can be seen at the Shetland Museum.

The Purse

Original
Replica

Knitted purse from among Gunnister man finds.
The purse, although a dull brown when found, was probably originally a natural mixed grey, with a red and white pattern. Dutch and Swedish coins were found in the man's purse, but as these were common in Shetland at that time it gives no clear indication of his origin.
It is difficult to know if the man's garments were knitted in Shetland or elsewhere, but even if they weren't, it proves that stranded knitting, know known as Fair Isle knitting, had been at least seen in Shetland by the end of the 18th century.
(Photos and text from Shetland Museum and Archives.)

The Gloves

Gloves - replica

Knitted gloves, or rather gauntlets, (replicas) from among Gunnister man finds.
The gloves are well knitted with sophisticated techniques. They are mainly knitted in stocking stitch, with patterning on the cuffs, and decorative arrows on the back of the hands.
Because the man was wearing gloves and other warm clothing, it suggests he may have died in winter-time.
(Photo and text from Shetland Museum and Archives.)

Open-work knitting

Gunnister Man knitting -Shetland Museum and Archives 01387.jpg

A small piece of open-work knitting was found with the man, with a pattern of three concentric diamonds but no worked edge. There is no explanation for this piece of knitting and it is not known if it was joined on to another fabric which might have rotted away.

This is a replica of the knitted piece. It demonstrates sophisticated knitting techniques, although it is not known if it was knitted in Shetland or elsewhere. However, it does prove that open-work knitting was known in Shetland by the end of the 18th century.
(Photo and text from Shetland Museum and Archives.)

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