The Lyre Bridge from Skye on “The Day of Archaeology”

Today is “The day of Archaeology”, which originated in England. In addition to that, Great Britain celebrates the “Festival of Archaeology” (12th to 27th July). For those of us with special interest in archaeological finds of musical artefacts, today is the perfect day to recall one of the most interesting discoveries of recent years: a part of a lyre from the Isle of Sky, the Hebrides, Scotland. What is sensational with this discovery is the early dating – more than 300 BC – in combination with its location. This is a fringe area of Europe, far North and West in relation to the ancient cultures in the Mediterranean area, where they played lyres at the same time. My colleagues Graeme Lawson (Cambridge) and John Purser (Skye) are now working with the artifact and its significance. In this YouTube clip you can hear them talk about this lyre bridge. Here is also an article from BBC about the instrument find.

Graeme Lawson with his lyre replica (YouTube).

Graeme Lawson with his lyre replica (YouTube).

Gjermund Kolltveit

Music archaeologist, ethnomusicologist, musician – Nesodden, Norway. Main research interests: sound and sound tools (e.g. jew’s harps, lyres, ringing stones, bells) in human culture and soundscapes.


  1. Catriona Henderson on November 17, 2016 at 08:09

    So interesting to see that this was found on the Isle of Skye. I do Viking re enactment, and am at present making a 6th century lyre found in the black forest. I would far rather have made this instrument instead. Is there plans for this instrument? Where can I get them from please. I look forward to hearing from you


    Catriona Henderson

  2. Gjermund Kolltveit on November 17, 2016 at 11:48

    Hello! Yes, an extremely interesting find. Mind, however, that only the bridge is from Isle of Skye. The lyre, played by Graeme Lawson in this video clip, is something else. (It is probably a replica or type model of one of the Anglo-Saxon lyre finds.) I don’t know if there exist any detailed drawings of the bridge, apart from the video and photos. Neither do I know how far they have come with the publication of the find – I mean apart from the news releases from BBC etc. Sorry, this is all I know about this. Good luck with your work!
    Best wishes,

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