Page 7 - Illustrated Reditch History
P. 7

A Prehistoric Needle and a Historic Modern Needle

                                                   These hunter-gatherers would have been wearing
                                                   clothes, probably made from the hides of animals,
                                                   but  the  question  is,  how  were  they  made?
                                                   Perhaps holes were made either side of a piece
                                                   of  skin  and  then  some  kind  of  laces  threaded
                                                   through. The wearers must have been desperate
                                                   for needles and thread.
                                                   Some  of  the  earliest  needles  were  made  from
                                                   strips of bone with a hole one end and a point the
                                                   other. Sometimes plants were used. The photo
                                                   shows a copy of a prehistoric needle in Forge Mill
                                                   that  was  made  from  a  Yucca  plant,  a  type  of
                                                   cactus. It’s the earliest needle ever found and is
                                                   known  as  Eve's  needle  after  the  bible  story  of
                                                   Eve,  the  earths  first  woman.  The  stems  have
                                                   spikes and they make good needles. Even better,
                                                   they come with the thread attached, the stem is
                                                   made  up  of  fibres  so  that  when  they  are
                                                   separated and dried they are like cotton. This is
                                                   a copy, the original needle was presented to the
                                                   queen on her visit to the museum in 1983.
                                                   If you look carefully you will see that with Eve's
                                                   needle  is  a  tiny  modern  needle.  It's  used  by
                                                   surgeons  in  delicate  operations.  A  Redditch
                                                   company,  Shrimpton  and  Fletcher  are  the  only
                                                   people in the world to make them. One like this
                                                   was used in the Challenger space shuttle to sew
                                                   the delicate silica cloth which acts as a heat barrier.

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