Viking-Age Accessories Part 2: Men & Shopping

Accessories for Men

An introduction to common accessories found in Viking graves to help the reenactor put together a kit to look more like a Viking.

The drawings are my own – please do not scan or upload to the internet. Copies made for educational purposes, such as classes, can be as long as credit is given and my contact information is added. Feel free to email me for questions, corrections or comments.

MEn image words 2 wm

Hat tip:

Hat tip: There is no doubt that Vikings loved to bling things up, including the ends of their caps.  These hat tips were cone shaped metal ends that were often elaborately decorated.  They were found in both the western areas, such as Birka, as well as the eastern or Rus regions.

Pennanular Brooches:

Pennanular Brooches were used to pin cloaks near the shoulder, a style that makes it easier to reach a weapon or gear. Cloak pins were sturdy, often a large pennanular (horseshoe with a sharp nail) or annular (circle with a sharp nail) brooch. Other brooches are fine as long as they have a sturdy pin.

Thor’s Hammer:

Thor’s Hammer, or Mjølnir, was often shaped like an upside-down cross. They could have animal heads on the bottom or be plain hammer-shaped.

Arm Ring:

Arm Ring are thought of as signs of status and wealth, arm rings and a common Viking grave find.  These ranged in a variety from elaborate, animal headed small torqs to simple twisted and coiled wire spiraling around the arm.

Belt Accoutrements

Buckle:

Buckle:  Vikings had buckles, not rings, which held their belts together. These were often elaborate in design and very sturdy in construction, but rarely were larger than able to accommodate a 1 inch belt.

Belt Studs:

Belt Studs, also called belt plaques, were metal affixed to the belt with studded backs. Common in Viking-age graves, a single set did not always perfectly match but were similar and had a common element. The idea of a consistent and matching “set” is modern.

Belt Tips:

Belt Tips increase the Viking flavor of your outfit, even if you can not find belt studs. These metal tips often matched the buckle, not the studs, in design.

Belt Pouch hardware:

Belt Pouch hardware, including buckles and leather studs, are a common Viking grave-find. Some whole pouches, such as the Birka pouch, can be used as a pattern. These pouches had leather loops in the back that allowed them to slide easily onto the belt.

Seax:

Seax:  Rarely do we find an adult male Viking grave without a weapon. Even most female graves contain weapons. The seax is a common Viking knife, which often hung horizontally by using metal rings and leather straps rather than vertically, like a modern knife sheath.

Winingas Hooks:

Winingas Hooks answer the question of how a Viking man kept his leg wraps on. These small, metal, triangular shaped hook tags were sewn onto the leg-wraps using small holes near the flat edge. They are almost always found in matching pairs.

Where to Find Accessories?

Other than waiting for large events, such as Pennsic or Gulf Wars, the internet is the place to find Viking accessories.

There are a few good shop in the U.S.:

Crafty Celts http://www.craftycelts.com/
Raymond’s Quiet Press http://quietpress.com/
Also look to Europe.
Etsy (www.etsy.com) has great European vendors.

My favorites are (in no particular order):

Other European Shops:

If using Chrome to see these sites, you can right click to translate to English. And most of them take PayPal! ~~~ Enjoy! Esperanza

Rus Embroidery #4

I’ve been having fun sketching Viking Rus embroidery designs from period sources.  Their artwork, as I may have said before, is this amazing mix of Viking, Byzantine and Eastern.  I’m still researching on the stitches they used, but I haven’t yet found enough to post anything.

Here’s a new design. It’s based on a sword hilt from 11th century Ukraine.

Neckline / collar

rus embroidery 5 d wm

 

Hem, Sleeves and other Straights

Rus Embroidery 5 f wm

Documentation

rus embroidery 5 wm

Viking-Age Accessories Part 1: Intro and Women

I was scheduled to teach 4 classes at Gulf Wars this year. Unfortunately, Gulf Wars turned into Gulfnado and I was only able to teach 1.  I’ll try to schedule them for future events, but until then, I’ll share here.

An introduction to common accessories found in Viking graves to help the reenactor put together a kit to look more like a Viking.

The drawings are my own – please do not scan or upload to the internet. Copies made for educational purposes, such as classes, can be as long as credit is given and my contact information is added. Feel free to email me for questions, corrections or comments.

A word on names:

Naming object is so important in human history that it is mentioned early in the Bible when God gifted Adam with the task of naming all of the animals. We give names weight when we debate on whether or not something fits into a category (think of Pluto, for example).

The names used here are common names for the items, but are not definitive. Even with alternate names, this is not an exhaustive list.

Names have power. For example, let’s look at the Viking apron dress, which is often called a hangerok. This name was given to it by Agnes Gejer, a German archeologist from the early days of Viking-age archeology. In German, it refers to dungerees or overalls, which is not a dress but a practical workman’s outfit. The Russian word for the same item translates to sundress, which gives the connotations of something fancy we wear on holiday. There is no Viking-age word for this item of clothing, but only words given in the last 100 years. Each name gives a different feeling to the piece. All, yet none, are correct.

i.e., don’t fixate on names.  I’ve written more about this in my blog post:

https://maniacalmedievalist.wordpress.com/2012/11/12/a-cotehardie-by-any-other-name-would-look-just-as-lovely-some-thoughts-on-research/

Woman Image words wm

Accessories for the Woman

Turtle Brooches

Turtle Brooches are the most distinctive of Viking-age jewelry. Also called oval brooches or paired brooches, because they are oval in shape and were almost always found in pairs, these were worn on the rise of each breast to fasten the strap of the apron dress to the front top of the dress, like the buckles on modern overalls. The turtle brooches rarely went through the cloth but were most often fastened through a top and bottom loop. The turtle brooches often had beads or chains connecting them together and other items, such as scissors or ear spoons, hanging from them.
Alternates: In Finland, round brooches were more common, and in Gotland, animal heads, such as bores or bears.

Trefoil Brooch

Trefoil Brooch: was one possible brooch found at the neck close the opening of a dress, like the top button. Others included small round brooches, snake brooches, or small penannular brooches. Larger trefoil brooches could be used as a cloak clasp. Worn with a leg pointing down and fork up, much like the letter the “Y”.

Mirror Brooch

Mirror Brooch, called such because of their symmetry, were used as clothes fasteners. They are most often found singly laying in a horizontal position, relative to the body. Can be used in pairs vertically in lieu of tortoise brooches. Also called equal armed brooches.

Beads

Beads: of glass, metal (sliver, gold or bronze), metal pendants or gemstone beads were often strung between the turtle brooches. Glass beads, made like modern lampwork beads, had complex patterns and shapes. Although amber is the most frequent gemstone bead used today, carnelian, quartz, garnet, amethyst and jet have been found in both necklaces and hanging between the brooches.
Other Danglies: Viking women also wore practical items hanging from brooches or hanging from their belts.  Amoung these items are ear spoons, tweezers, scissors, needle-cases, keys, combs, and tooth or fingernail picks.

Freya Pendant

Freya Pendant:  Many pendants have been found in graves of Viking-age women.  Pendants of Freya or Valkyries are fairly common.

Cloak Pin

Cloak Pin: Cloaks could be fastened on with a single pin in the front or on the shoulder, or with two cloak pins pinning the cloak open in the front. Cloak pins could be very simple, such as these large decorative nails, or rather complex, such as trefoils or penannular brooches.

Belt

Belt:  Although belt buckles were uncommon in graves of Viking women, cloth belts could have items hanging from them. We often find remnants of tablet woven belts, which were perhaps tied.

Head Scarf

Head Scarf: Viking women wore something on their heads or fixed their hair in elaborate braids. The head scarf, which can be tied in a large knot at the nape of the neck, is inspired by images of women from pendants.  A Jorvik styled cap or head-rail can also be used.

Tablet-Woven Headband

Tablet-Woven Headband:  Although the headband/temple-ring combo is thought to be more of an eastern or Rus Viking custom, tablet woven headbands are found in the western graves in Birka and Hedeby.

Temple Rings

Temple Rings are found near the temple of the head and were possibly worn, in the eastern Viking regions, attached to head scarves or headbands, a tradition which continued through the centuries in Russia. In the Western Viking-age world, they were possibly used as earrings worn around the ears rather than attached to the headband.

Rus Embroidery #2

I have insomnia. It’s been getting worse for years, and it’s more normal than a full night’s sleep.  Partly why I research so much is that it passes the long nights.  Once every few weeks I crash and that always happens at the most importune times, like when I get a chance to hang out with my besties at a birthday party.

It also leaves me pretty empty to post on my blog, even if I have another Rus embroidery pattern ready to go.

For a few months, I’ve been fascinated by the Russians. I’m in touch with several Russian Viking-reenactment groups, and they are so cool!  Two distinct difference, other than that they battle each other with real swords and no face plate, jump out at me.  First, they are serious about their authenticity in costuming.

I’m not an authenticity enforcer.  The only time I inspect someone else’s garb for authenticity is either when they ask directly or I’m judging garb at an Arts & Sciences event.  I hold myself to the rules of authenticity because I find it challenging, fascinating and a personal goal.  I do not go around casting aspersions on others.

Not that the Russian reenactors  are authenticity enforcers either, but they hold themselves to those same standards I aim for.

The second difference is that they share documentation.  Not that I am criticizing my fellow artisans of the Known Realm, but there is a tendency to hoard knowledge that I do not like.  It is not that one has the information that makes them special; it is putting that information in practice and, even more importantly, inspiring others to do the same that makes one truly extraordinary.  I strive to be that kind of an extraordinary artist.

Rus Embroidery #2

This design is based off of an embroidered cuff found in a Viking-age dig in the city of Sharhorod.  I put the pertinent data in the picture so that you can use it for documentation.  Please give me credit for the design if you do.  It makes me happy to know that someone used my work, and if anyone has questions, they can direct them my way.

The first design if for a neckline.  I love, love, lurv embroidered necklines.  Enlarge the picture until it fits your neck. It might be easier to do on a xeroz rather than a printer since it will take paper larger than the A4 size.hem sharhorod 2 wm

The second design looks more like the original and can be used for cuffs or hemlines.  It also gives you a contrast to the neckline design so that you can see how I changed the design to fit the curves.

hem sharhorod 1 wm

I’m already working on a Rus design that has both Celtic-like knotwork and fleur de lis, two of my favorite design elements!

Embroidered Neckline #1 – Rus based

I’m trying to expand my designs for necklines and wanting to base my patterns on period artwork.  The ones I like the most combine curves and plant elements.  I found this one based on a 10th – 11th century Rus sword. Making the design curve around the neck was trickier than I thought it should be, but I think it came out rather nice.

To use it, enlarge it until the neck hole is large enough for your neck. It will probably take at least two A4 sheets of paper, possibly 4.  Tape it together on the reverse side of the pattern.  I use Sulky iron-on transfer pens to get the pattern onto the fabric.

Remember, it is best to work the embroidery before doing anything other than cutting out the body piece.

rus sword design 10th c 2 wm

Matching cuff and edge trim.

cuff2

Updated 3/27/2016

Found the original picture of the sword hilt where the design came from.

Typical pattern of the Kievan Rus X-XI, this comes from the hilt of the sword, Kiev (Ukraine). Date about 1000 AD.
Kirpichnikov, AN Ancient weapon. Moscow: the Leningrad-Dep of Science, 1966. Archaeology of the USSR. p117

neckline 1

Not Your Normal Neckline, Part 2

Patterning

Continuing on where we left off, we’re going to explore how to pattern necklines based off of your body dimensions.

Whenever I talk to someone about their garb, I always ask them what they do not like about the garb they currently have.  Rarely do they dislike how it looks.  Most often, it is the fit that makes them like or hate their garb.  About half of the time, it’s how the garb fits in the shoulder area, and the other half is the way it fits in the neck.

If the neck is too tight, it feels like it’s choking you. If it’s too loose, you get a sunburn in weird spots or you feel the need to keep adjusting it so it does not fall off.  Most people new to making garb fall into the trap of making the neckline too big, and it is very difficult to make it smaller again.

Over the years I’ve tried several ways of measuring and patterning necklines, from using the neck and head circumference in a long math formula to holding up a clear quilting measuring square and plotting out the neck shape from there.  I’ve not had much luck with these methods despite that they seem like they should work.

The neckline measurement technique I’ve had the nest luck with is based off of Mistress Margaret Bruce’s “Magic Neckline Trick”, which was a brilliant idea of using body proportions to create a perfect neck-hole.  You can find her original handout here:

http://www.chesholme.com/wfiles/2-2-Magic-Neckline-Trick-Pt-1.pdf
http://www.chesholme.com/wfiles/2-3-Magic-Neckline-Trick-Pt-2.pdf

I tested her trick out over the years and made my own modifications. Remember that this is a general technique that works with my family. You may need to adjust it depending on head shape and neck size.

With this method, you end up with the smallest possible neck-hole that will fit over your head.  If you want a larger opening or something that is scooped or shaped differently, use the method as a starting point. Begin enlarging by adding length to the front, not the back and definitely not the sides. Adding length and width to the back and sides will make an ill-fitted neck-hole.

With children, use this method as a starting point. Children’s heads are not proportional to the rest of their body and are almost always big compared to their other parts.  

Step 1

We are working with only one half of the neck-hole. Whatever pattern we end up with, we will fold the paper in half along the vertical line (up and down line) and cut out both sides at once.  This way, we have a neckline that is the same shape on both sides.  Left or right, it does not matter. I find it easier to work with my left hand because I am right handed.

step 1 wm

Take a large sheet of paper or tape several sheets together.  Near the center, draw a set of perpendicular lines.

Step 2

step 2 wm

On the top section of the perpendicular lines, mark the width of your first two fingers at their widest.  On my hand, my first two fingers are the widest close to the knuckles.

Step 3

step 3 wm

On the left (or right) side of the center, mark the width of your 4 fingers at the widest. On my hand, my 4 fingers are the widest where the fingers and palm connect.

Step 4

step 4 wm

On the bottom section of the lines, make a mark the width of the widest part of your whole palm, including your thumb.  On my hand, this point is just below the thumb.

Step 5

At this point, you have a mark on the top and bottom of the vertical line and a mark on either the right or left of the horizontal one.  Label the top mark A and the bottom mark B.

step 5 wm

Measure the distance from point A and point B. Write this number down somewhere.

Measure around your head where it is the widest. My head is the widest near my temple, but depending on your head shape you may need to measure over the ears or nose.  Write this number down as well.

Step 6

Take your head circumference and divide it by 3.  Take this new number and subtract the length of AB from it.  Add that amount to the bottom of your lines and mark it point C.

step 6 wm

If you are lost, that’s fine. I’ll show you what I mean.

Example

step 7 wm

After measuring my hand, the distance between points and B is 6 inches.  My head is 21 inches around where it is the biggest.

21″ ÷ 3 = 7″

I subtract the 6″ of my original AB line from the 7″.  7″-6″=1″

Just below point B, I add 1 inch and mark that point as point C.

If the circumference of your head does not divide evenly by 3, use a fraction. For example, 22″ would be 7 1/3″.  23″ is 7 2/3″.

This plot is what we will use to make all of your neck openings.

Making Round Necklines

Let’s start out with your basic round neckline.

round 1 wm

This is fairly easy. Connect point to the mark on the horizontal line. The tendency is to go straight across, but round it out instead.  I use a French curve to make sure that I’m getting the most rounded line I can.

Connect point C to the same horizontal mark.  Again round it out.

That’s it!  That is your neck-hole. For the basic round neckline, you will ignore point B. Do not adjust this hole for seam allowance or hemming.  The opening works best when it is opened a bit more by hemming it or sewing it to a facing with 1/4″ allowance and clipping the curves.

Now fold the paper in half along the vertical (up and down) line and cut out the half circle you drew.

When you unfold it, this is the smallest possible round neckline that will fit comfortably on you.  If you want it larger, start by trimming on the bottom.

008 Round

Round Neckline Facing

round 2 wm

Once your have your basic shape, you can use the shape to cut out your neck-hole or you can use it to make a neck facing or contrasting color of fabric.

How wide do you want the facing or contrasting fabric? How big of a hem do you need on the facing edge?  Add these two numbers together.  (I usually do a 2″ facing with a 1/2″ hem allowance, making my sum 2 1/2″).

From points A and C and the mark on the horizontal line, make a mark the length of your sum.  For me, that is 2 1/2″. Label these marks D, E and F.  Connect D, E and with a rounded line that follows the curve of your original half-circle.

Fold the circle in half and cut out both the internal and external circle, like this:

013 Round 2.jpg

The top line becomes the center back. The bottom line becomes the center front and the two side lines become your shoulder lines.

Round Neckline with Split Front

Many people like the tighter neckline, but they need a bit extra of an opening to get their heads through.  You can accomplish this with a slit in the front.

round 3 wm

Instead of connecting the horizontal point to point C, connect it to point B.  Then from B to C make a small diagonal opening.

That’s it! It gives you a tighter neck so that you don’t burn as much, but the slit makes it so that you can pull the tunic over your head.

round 4 wm

To make the facing, use the same technique as your did for the round neckline, but make a key shape around point C.

Tricks and Tips for Making Necklines Easier

Tip 1:  Do the neck first
Cut out and finish the neckline right after you have cut out the body and before you sew any side seams.

Most people do the neckline last.  Why? At this point you have to work with fabric that is not flat but is curved by the sleeves and side seams.  Why not start with the neckline?

If you cut out and finish your neck right after you have cut out the body and before you do anything else, you work with a nice flat piece of fabric. It not only makes it easier to sew, but it will lay better when you have finished the garb.

Tip 2: Don’t cut the hole until it’s sewn on the body
If using facing or a contrasting color, sew the neck and the body together before you have cut any holes out.

Yeah that sounds weird, but fabric moves. And once you cut a big hole in it, it will move even more.  Cut out your body.  Mark your shoulder points and center front and back  on the body piece.  Cut out your neck facing or contrasting neckline fabric. Mark the shoulder points and center front and back on the neck.  Using your paper template, mark the hole on the neck facing with tailors chalk or a water soluble fabric pen.

Pin the neck facing to the body piece. Sew them together right on or a 1/4″ outside of the neck hole line you drew.

Now cut the neck hole out, turn the facing over and stitch or hem it to the body.

You are welcome!

I have the diagrams for making the other shapes, but I’m done for the day. My kids, which I homeschool, need to start their lessons and it’s already 11:00.  More later.

Happy Garb-Making!!

Women’s Viking-Age Garb Part 4: Step 3 What to Wear over the Gown

I took a break for a couple of days for the holidays.  We had a beautiful Winter/Solar-Festival/Christmas/Yule/Hogswatch holiday.  Whatever you want to call it, the midwinter celebration is one of my favorites.

Continuing on in my Women’s Viking Garb series, today I’ll talk about what does a Viking woman wear over her gown.  Remember this is a mash-up series.  I’m not looking at any specific point in time and place, but this series mashes together all of the Viking-age and all of the places considered “Viking.” I’m trying to paint a general picture for the re-enactor who wants a Viking-age persona, but doesn’t quite know a specific time or place that her persona would be from.  The outfits described here give you an “authentic” Viking look without limiting you to one specific region and time period.

Step 3: What to Wear over the Gown

Choices:

  1. Large Over-gown
  2. Peplos
  3. Hangerok (Apron dress)

Choice 1: Large Over-Gown

  • Length: Calf length or higher
  • Sleeves: Wrist or Forearm length, looser sleeves
  • Wool or Linen

Style can be based on any gown from step 2, but it is generally a size or two larger in order to accommodate the clothing you would be wearing under it.  The sleeves and hemline are often a bit shorter.

The gown can also be split up the front, like a jacket.

Coat birka

Or it can be closed in the front like a coat.  These will be discussed further when I discuss what to wear when you are cold.

coat 2.jpg

Choice 2: Peplos

A peplos is a simple tube that is as wide as you with your hands on your hips and as tall as you. It was worn more in the Finland region.

  • Length: Possibly from right below the knee to the ankle
  • Front and back held together on shoulders with clasps

When worn, it is generally folded down on top to about armpit level. It is then held up in many, many ways, each one giving a different look. As you can see, a long sleeved tunic gown is worn under the peplos.

Peplos 1

Peplos 2Peplos 3.jpg

Choice 3: Hangerok / Apron-Dress

At its very basic, it’s a simple tube held on by straps that go over the shoulders.  Not much different in essence with the Peplos, with the main difference of the addition of the straps.

  • Fabric: wool or linen
  • Straps: sewn on to back
    • held on to front by brooches, usually with loops

The different styles are based not only on geographical diversity, but also on the differing opinions of the various archeologists.  As of yet (and of my current research) there is no complete extant apron-dress. We have many, many pieces of the tops, especially the loops, but not enough to make a definite guess as to what the finished product looked like.

Apron-Dress Style 1

The first style is essentially a large rectangle that is wrapped around the body and held closed with loops that are connected to brooches (not shown in illustration).

Hangerok 1

Apron-Dress Style 2

The second apron-dress is based on the finds found in Hedeby and Inga Hägg’s writing on the apron-dress.  This dress has a panel in the front and back, and has one to two panels on each side.  The front and back panel is more rectangular, while the side panels have a more trapezoidal shape, giving the dress more flare at the bottom.

Hangerock 2.jpg

Apron-Dress Style 3

This style is based on Flemming Bau’s ideas behind the apron-dress.  His idea is that the apron-dress was not closed in the front.  Again, it’s essentially a rectangle, but instead of being closed in the front, it was open and usually had a simple apron completing the “circuit.” (apron not shown in illustration)  The apron would hang into the brooches with separate loops.

Hangerok 3

Apron Dress Style 4

The final dress is based on the Kostrup pleated apron-dress. In this style, there is a series of pleats that run across the top of the front panel.  The pleated fabric gives the width to the bottom of the dress.

Hangerok 4

 

Pattern for the Hedeby Apron-Dress

pattern 6