Our final object is from the end of the 13th century, and although it's made from iron it is in great condition. The main part is one strip of iron wrapped around to form a U-shaped frame. The flat central strip of iron (the tongue) is then hammered or welded into the thickest part of the frame with its tip slightly bent upwards. It’s only 66mm long and is meant to be held in one hand with the frame’s pointed ends sitting between the person’s teeth. The iron tongue is then plucked with the other hand to create a twang sound that using the mouth as an echo chamber, creates a note which can be raised in pitch by changing the position of lips, tongue and cheek. This simple ancient folk instrument is called a ‘trump’, though is more commonly known as a ‘Jew’s Harp’ (probably deriving from ‘Jaw’s Harp’). It was introduced to Europe during the Crusades from South-East Asia. The example here was excavated in 1973 at Custom House and is one of the few complete ones within the Museum of London’s collection.
Find out more about the Archaeological Archive, the largest in the world, and check out the events we hold which can take you inside to view the artefacts for yourself.