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Dublin

There are several thousand combs and fragments from Dublin, including over 600 from the High Street and Christ Church Place excavations alone, but this corpus is as yet unpublished (I. Riddler pers. comm.). A few examples of the double-sided Types 11 and 13 (Class D3) are known (Dunlevy 1988, 392), but single-sided Types 5-8 dominate. Using Dunlevy's data, the majority of combs belong to Class F2 (which includes twenty examples of Types 6 and 7 in the present terminology) and F3 (here Types 8a and 8b; fifteen secure examples). Dunlevy describes a number of find contexts for these combs, with dates ranging between the early 10th and early 12th centuries (Dunlevy 1988, 364-5). More recently, a Type 6 comb was found in level 2 at Site I, Winetavern Street; a level dated to the 12th century on ceramic evidence (Hayden and Walsh 1997, fig. 68, no. 2). If the Scandinavian chronology applies, this comb must be residual. At Dublin Castle, a number of Type 8a/b combs were found in the same 11th- to 12th-century levels as three examples of 'short F2 combs' (Type 6 here) (Dunlevy 1988, 366). Types 8a and 8b have also been found in levels broadly dated to the early 10th to 12th centuries at Winetavern Street and High Street, while outside Dublin they are known from a number of sites including Ballinderry crannog No. 1 (Hencken 1936, fig. 31) and Knowth (Edwards 1990, fig. 37).

Dunlevy suggests that this, together with their uniformity of style and material use, indicates that Class F3 (i.e. Types 8a and 8b) combs were mass-produced in Dublin, both for use in the town and for export around Ireland and northern Europe. However, her corpus shows that Types 8a and 8b are also well represented beyond the capital, listing eleven examples from Knowth, for example (dated to around AD 1000; see Edwards 1990, 85; Eogan 1974). Moreover, of 59 examples of Dunlevy's Class G (which corresponds to Type 8c here) only thirteen have secure Dublin provenances, while eleven come from Knowth, and there are thirteen (insecurely) sourced to Strokestown. Dunlevy states that Class G (Type 8c) combs come from late 11th- to 13th-century deposits at High Street, but we should also note an isolated example from the early-10th century at Winetavern Street. More recently, a probable example of Type 8c was found in a late 12th-century deposit in layer 1, Site J, Winetavern Street (Hayden and Walsh 1997, fig. 68, no. 3). An extended currency for these types seems possible, especially given the apparent scarcity of Types 9 and 13 in Ireland; Dunlevy makes no clear reference to Type 9 combs, and only fifteen occurrences of Type 13 are noted. Moreover, the frequency of finds of Types 8a and 8b in the southern Baltic region suggests that Dublin was - at best - one of a number of centres of production for these types.

 

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