Viking Age Tunic

This is my husband’s newest fighting tunic. It’s based mainly on the tunic found on the shore of Søndersø in the Krugland bog near the city of Viborg in Denmark. This tunic was worn as an outer piece of clothing in the 11th and 12th centuries. The Kraglund tunic has been carbon (14-c) dated to 1045 to 1155.

On left: Extant Kragelund tunic
On right: My husband in his new tunic

A tunic such as this could have been worn by either a man or woman as everyday clothing. If anyone doubts that women also dressed in this manner during this time period, check out the latest information on the Skjoldehamn find. The find included what we would consider a Viking man’s outfit, but DNA tests have proven that the skeleton in the outfit was a woman. Here’s a translation of Dan Halvard Løvlid’s thesis http://www.ceilingpress.com/Resources/SkjoldehamnFindInLightofNewKnowledge.pdf. It was originally written in Norwegian as his master thesis in archeology from the University of Bergen.

Back to the tunic . . . It varied in length and could be as short as hanging to the mid-thigh or as long as hanging to the ankle.  I chose to make this one hang to near knee level.

Its construction is very similar to many other tunics, which date to a similar era, also found in and around Denmark, such as Bocksten Bog Man’s Kyrtle and the Skjoldehamn Kyrtle.

I based my pattern off the work of Marc Carlson, who based his off the work of Hald in Nockert. All of this can be found on Marc’s site: http://www.personal.utulsa.edu/~marc-carlson/cloth/kraglund.html

Some things that make this particular design unique amoung the extant tunics from that time:

  • Body:
    • No shoulder seam, indicating that the main body piece was one long piece of fabric.
    • Two gores in the front
    • Two gores in the back
    • Two gores on either side.
    • Neck-hole has a “V” shape to it (as opposed to the more common rounded one).
  • Arms
    • 3 piece construction with no underarm gussets. This part was tricky to pattern out since the illustration isn’t to scale.

     

    I like the way it turned out. As a fighting tunic, the 8 gores in the bottom give it a-lot of flow and room for movement. The arm construction, which I hesitated in doing because of the lack of armpit gussets, moves quite well too.

    I used linen in the construction, both the fabric and the thread. Although the original is wool, the Viborg tunic, from the same time, is all linen and was found only 35 km away from this one. Given the area they were found in, I’m pretty sure that an all linen tunic of the time would have been an undergarment. Since we live in southern Louisiana and it’s very hot here most of the year, I chose to make this outer tunic from linen and not from wool.

    I’m happy with it, and better still he’s happy with it. I will probably create at least one more fighting tunic in this construction. I know I took pictures of the creation, but I can’t seem to find them at the moment. When I do find them, I’ll add them to the post. I really need to organize my project pictures better!

5 thoughts on “Viking Age Tunic

  1. THL Adam Goodwine says:

    From a practical standpoint – being the wearer – the tunic moves well in combat. I have no tug points and it has held up well to the rigors of SCA combat (being ground between a stick of rattan and my leather lorica underneath. I will be getting a maille hauberk in soon and wonder how the linen will hold up to that – we shall see. On another note, the tunic looks good when it is moving. I have seen some in-action pics and the thing flows wonderfully when I am on the field – have had MANY compliments on it since I started wearing it!

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