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Bone and ivory working

Waste and part-made bone and ivory objects uncovered at Liverpool Street
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From 1635 to 1740 the Clitherow family managed the New Churchyard. This meant that they benefitted from any charges for grave digging or for burial vaults.

In 1707 Benjamin Clitherow converted the ground floor of the family home into a shop. The foundations of this shop and other buildings were found by archaeologists, along with large quantities of bone- and ivory-working waste.

Waste and part-made bone and ivory objects were found. The Clitherows made turned objects, such as needle cases and bone optical compendiums for use in telescopes, microscopes and other lenses, largely from cattle metapodials (foot bones).

These pieces illustrate the processes involved in the production. Long strips cut from metapodial shafts were worked into both small and large needle cases [1]. Rough squares were worked into telescope eyepieces and caps [2], while longer shafts were lathe-turned into telescope cylinders [3].