Manufacture of lime bast cordage in northern Europe has been an unbroken tradition from the Mesolithic (9000–3000 BC) to the present day. The cordage was usually manufactured by stripping off the bark of lime trees in midsummer, submerging it in water to dissociate the adjacent bast layers, and then peeling off the outer bark and separating the bast layers in narrow bands. The bast bands were then spun to make cords, which in turn were twisted to cordage. Lime bast cordage is characterized by pliability, low specific weight, low extensibility and limited water absorbance. While the strength is superior to bast cordage of other European trees, particularly in wet conditions, it is susceptible to wear, has less strength than cordage of hemp and nylon, for example, and requires laborious manufacture. The skills required for making lime bast cordage are rare at present, but increased interest in natural fibre products might safeguard and revitalize the craft for the future.

Received 27 January 2004.

Author notes

1Norwegian Forest Research Institute, Fana?aten 4, N-5244 Fana, Norway, 2Hardanger Boat Preservation Centre, N-5600 Norheimsund, Norway, 3Norwegian Forest Research Institute, Høgskoleveien 8, N-1432 Ås, Norway