Viking women's clothing

About Viking women's clothing

Scandinavian female costume of the Viking Age, there are a lot of studies that display viking women's clothing. Confusion began with archaeological research in Birka. More than 1,100 burials were studied between 1873 and 1895 by Hjalmar Stolpe.

Archeologists decided that "typical Vikings" were buried in these burials, but studies have shown that these burials were either burials of the nobility, or that the dead were buried in the clothing of rich nordic people.

At the beginig of archaeological research, archeologists were more interested in such findings as: swords, fibulas, etc. Fragments of viking women`s clothes, or simply disappeared, or for a long time fell into the funds of museums.

Agnes Geier (Agnes Geijer) was the first who show an academic interest to tissues (remains of  viking clothes) from Birka. By the time of the beginning of her research, any hope for an accurate reconstruction of clothes had already disappeared. Later, Geier reconstructed the viking women`s undershirt, over which was worn an "apron" (pinafore arrangement) with straps that were fastened with tortoise-shaped fibulae.

Many famous researchers, such as M.Hald in 1950 and Inga Hagg in 1974, continued the work of Geyer, and their reconstruction of the Scandinavian female costume of the Viking Age went to press.

Clothes of the scandinavian nobility.

The lower dress.
These rather simple garments remained in the IX century without folds, but in the X century were more often pleated. They reached an ankle length and fastened (in the 10th century) at the throat with an ordinary round fibula. Pleated fragments are also found in York Vikings.
Pleated lower dresses differed slightly from modern pleated hemlines. It is assumed that this was a robe with folds in the entire length of the body, to which folded sleeves were sewn. These "folded shirts" were tightened around the neck with a lace. It seems difficult to determine what role this brothel played in this experiment. If the brooch was not only an ornament, it was probably used to fasten the outer garment or for earlier unplayed lower dresses. Many of these fibulae have a ring on the back side, and in some graves this ring is attached to a chain of chains of tortoise brooches. If the top dress is not worn, then such a fastening system is extremely inconvenient. It is more likely that these fibulae fastened the outer clothing. Pleated sleeves are reconstructed with both longitudinal (as represented by Judith Jesch, Gustavsson, Mallott, etc.) or transverse (Fleming Bau) folds. The latter resemble the men's and women's clothing of the Saxons and the find from the burial Mammen with double cuffs. Inga Hegg showed on the basis of the analysis of corrosion on the back of the fibula that the folds were horizontal, around the arms. The remnants of the lower dress are also found in Hedeby, a large commercial Danish center. They were also pleated, or, in a simpler version, with a hem extended with wedges. One of the finds was very long, lined with fluff and decorated with buttons from the ankle to the hem edge. Perhaps this is a local variant, that was used in Denmark.

It was assumed that viking women`s dress was knee-length and decorated with braid. It was also assumed that the upper dress was usually sewn out of silk, and the cuffs of sleeves were decorated with expensive embroidery. However, a clear picture is still missing.

Not all women were buried in full costume, the fabric of various costume items is different, and not all materials are preserved in various tombs. In some cases, the dress (if it was worn) was made of wool with a rhombic weave OR from silk. With such a small number of materials found, it is possible to determine the length of clothing only from the remaining fragments of the braid. At the same time, not every piece of clothing was decorated with braid. It is not known what kind of clothes were decorated with braid: a dress or a caftan or a raincoat. Finds from Hedebyu represent another version of the dress. The Danish variant is much longer than the reconstruction from the Birka: the length is almost the same as the length of the undershirt. A similar variant is much closer in its length to later variants from Mooslund (Moselund, Denmark, ca. 1250) or Herjolfnes (Herjolfsnes, Greenland, ca. 1300).