Exploring our relationship with limpets through traditions, customs, stories and myths
A Limpet Ting is an assembly of people who have an interest in limpets and where limpet knowledge is exchanged. It was inspired by 'Things', from the Old Norse þing which were the early assemblies found throughout Northern Europe.
Limpet Ting 1 and the Papay Rattle
The inaugural Limpet Ting was held on the Sands of Evie in July 2021. Artist and fellow limpet lover, Fiona Sanderson shows us how to make a Papay Rattle. This traditional toy is made on the island of Papa Westray (known locally as Papay). Two limpet shells are placed together with a cowrie shell in the space between them. North Ronaldsay sheep wool is used to felt the shells together into a soft, spherical cocoon.
The sound of the rattles can be heard here:
Marking the Limpet Ting site on the Sands of Evie in July 2021.
Stromness Museum: The juxtaposition of objects on display in museums is always interesting!
The 'Limpet Spoon' accession number is E90
Stromness, Orkney, 2021
Stromness Museum is wonderful, encompassing Orkney's maritime history, anthropology, archaeology and much more. I was thrilled to find a 'limpet spoon' in the collection which was donated by some adventurous Orcadian who, according to the museum's accession records found it "in a fishing boat off the coast of Chile, June 20, 1891" Almost hidden amongst the other objects on display this artefact sparked a line of inquiry which led me to another 'limpet spoon'.
Pitt Rivers Museum
With its dense displays, atmospheric galleries and subdued lighting, the Pitt Rivers Museum is almost too much to take in as the lines of black cased vitrines stretch away into the gloom. It was to my delight that an internet search for 'limpet spoon' revealed one such object within the Pitt Rivers vast spoon collection!
With thanks to Pitt Rivers Museum, University of Oxford for permission to publish these images.
The 'Limpet Spoon' accession number is 1902.88.355
On October 29th 2021 I undertook a research visit to the museum and was able to handle the spoon. It was longer than I imagined and the plaited cane which attached the limpet shell bowl to the curved wooden handle was beautifully crafted.
According to the museum's catalogue the spoon originated from Thailand, having been collected by Thomas Nelson Annadale and Herbert Christopher Robinson who undertook an expedition to Perak the then Siamese Malay states in 1901-1902, under the auspices of the Universities of Edinburgh and Liverpool. The spoon was purchased by the museum in 1902.
The text written on the handle reads:
PULAU MENTIA (KOH MUK) TRANG. MALAY PA. Annandale Coll. 1901 (No. 355) Purch. 1902.88.355
I asked the museum curator about this writing on the object and he explained that at the time it was normal practice to label objects in this way. Today artefacts are labelled much less obtrusively.
Found shells, driftwood and flax thread
I made these Limpet Spoons in response to the museum visits.
The Limpet Legend of Dozmary Pool
Portable Limpetarium 3
Dozmary Pool, Bodmin Moor, Cornwall, 2021
I visited the windswept waters of Dozmary Pool after reading about the Cornish legend of Jan Tregeagle and his wretched task of emptying the lake with a leaky limpet shell.
A small wooden tool box, which was gifted to the project by artist Jo Naden served as the third of my portable research cabinets. The flat, rectangular container was perfect for carrying my limpet spoons safely across the wilds of Bodmin Moor where I, like Jan embarked on a hopeless undertaking...