Childrens' Rattles or Musical Instruments?
Some strange prehistoric clay-things, named rattles, have emerged from the earth and from the shelves of the museums some years ago. Seven registered specimen are from North Jutland; four of those have been found in settlements from Roman Iron Age. The size(the height), varies from 4 to 8 centimeter, and the shape is bowl- or lump-formed. They all have projecting sections , some with two small horns, which might remind about the common fire-trestles from early Roman period.
The special about these things is their rattling sound, X-rays show they are hollow. A rattle was broken in two showing a content of three clay-balls.
Related to these rattles and contemporary are the so-called rattle-cups, where the hollow foot contains small rattle-objects. There are many of those cups from the Roman period, but the sound-giving specimen are rare. It seems they were only made for rattling.
Naming them rattles make them belong in the world of children. This is possible, but not the only possibility. From primitive people are known similar things, which were used as musical instruments. They might also have something to do with religion or magic. There is no doubt that sounds played an important role in the cult.
Source and photo: Skalk , Archaeological Magazine, nr. 1, 1995, Jytte Nielsen.