Post-medieval Nested Weight Tests

01 July 2019

News Type:
Find of the Month
Photo: Historylinks Image library

Nested weight sets of copper alloy have been found in a number of locations in the Highlands. Many are said to be made in Nuremberg, which produced large numbers for export in the post-medieval period until the 18th century. The cup-shaped weights sit one inside the other, providing portable and easily stored sets. Many were used by apothecaries to accurately measure ingredients, with the Nuremburg standard used widely in northwestern Europe.

Photo: Historylinks Image library

Many are found at burgh sites. The example pictured above, from Ospisdale near Dornoch and now in Historylinks Museum, has a fleur-de-lis stamped on the bottom (the troy ounce standard for precious metal) and is likely therefore to have come from a set made in Nuremberg. A lid to a set, pictured to the right,  was found at Camore, also near Dornoch.

Recent finds in Highland areas by metal detectorists and excavations include examples from around Dornoch, Fortrose, Tain and St Columba’s Chapel, Portree. Others are probably in local museums. A full list has not been compiled, though would show interesting connections and trade.

Further information

Connor, R.D. et al. 2004. Weights and Measures in Scotland: A European Perspective

HistoryLinks Image Library
nested weight

And a warning on fakes on the market


Archaeology for Communities in the Highlands (ARCH), The Goods Shed, The Old Station, Strathpeffer, Ross-Shire, Scotland IV14 9DH
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