Outdoor Clothing

The following garments are described in the pattern booklet Outdoor Clothing. In the booklet you can find quite a lot of information on sources, but there is not enough room for the level of detail that some of us want, so you will find those details here instead. See Bibliography for the total bibliography. For resellers see Links.


In addition to the here described garments, we also know the rectangular cloak, which probably was the most common outdoor garment for men, and  shawls which probably were common for women. They are so simple that I don’t think that a pattern is needed for them. The rectangular cloak is simply a rectangle, about 150x250cm, and so are the shawls, 150×150 or 90x150cm. The first size of shawl is folded to a triangle, the other hangs with one of the long sides over the shoulders. Both are held together with a large disc-shaped, trefoil or equal-armed brooch at the front. The rectangular cloak is held together with a ring pin or a large ring brooch at the right shoulder. We often see these garments on pictures. The large amount of ring pins and ring brooches at the right shoulder in men’s graves confirm our knowledge of the rectangular cloak, while the large amount of brooches at the front of women’s graves also can be connected to the woman’s kaftan described in the booklet Shirt and Tunic.

Oriental Kaftan from Birka

difficulty level 3

Even if the oriental kaftan is using finds from Birka, and to some extent also Haithabu, it is almost totally based on the much more complete finds in Moshchevaya Balka (picture and picture). One can argue that Moshchevaya Balka is far away, but looking at research on how kaftans looked and were used in and around Byzantium (Hägg 1984a) and the similarity between the finds in Birka and Moshchevaya Balka, I have decided that it is more correct to use those than to invent a pattern on my own.

Materials: In both Birka and Haithabu the men’s kaftans are typically made of a slightly fulled wool in diagonal twill, but also of linen in some cases (Hägg 1986, pgs 68-69). The kaftans in Moshchevaya Balka are made of silk and linen and often lined with fur. In Moshchevaya Balka the kaftans did not have metal embroideries, posaments or tablet woven braids, while all these adornments have been found in Birka. As opposed to the under tunics in Birka, the tablet woven braids on the kaftans were normally made with gold thread and not silver (Hägg 1986, pg 69). There might also have been kaftans without the metal adornments in Birka, which have not been preserved to the same degree.

  1. The collar is based on a find in Valsgärde (picture) but is also indicated by remains of tablet woven braids and posaments at the neck in men’s graves in Birka (Hägg 1986, pg 69). It also matches the collars on some kaftans in Moshchevaya Balka (picture).
  2. The silk strips and buttons are based on finds in Birka. The number of buttons in Birka varies between 4 and 18 (Hägg 1986, pg 66) but they are always found between the neck and the waist. This is also true for the finds in Moshchevaya Balka (picture)
  3. The panels on the front look a lot like the ones found in Haithabu (Hägg 1984, pgs 45-47), but are, like the rest of the kaftan, fetched directly from the finds in Moshchevaya Balka (picture, picture).
  4. The length, sleeve construction and backside panel are totally based on the kaftans in Moshchevaya Balka. I have simplified the sleeve gusset.

Wrap-Over Coat from Haithabu

difficulty level 3

The wrap-over coat is mostly based on the finds of front pieces in the harbour in Haithabu (picture, Hägg 1984, pgs  73-88), but the garment is also found on pictures from the Vendel period and the Viking age, so called rider coats or warrior coats (picture). On the pictures the coats are always worn by men.

Materials: The remains of wrap-over coats in Haithabu are all made of wool in diagonal twill. They are lined with wool of the same type and the decorative edgings are made of a wool with a long pile that makes them look almost like a sheep fur.

  1. The width and fastening of the edgings are based on the finds in Haithabu and the pictures. We don’t know if there were any edgings on the back side.
  2. On the pictures you can see a stylized pattern on the edgings that often is interpreted as a tablet woven braid (picture). It is at least as possible that it is stylized fur. The fur also give the steadiness needed for the garment to look good.
  3. The little gore at each side is based on the finds in Haithabu (Hägg 1984, pgs 76-77, 87-88). It gives a larger freedom of movement and makes the coat more usable for riding.
  4. The cut of the armholes is one of several possibilities. That part of the front pieces were not preserved. A straight sleeve with a sleeve gusset is just as probable.
  5. The cut of the sleeves is based on the fitted sleeve found in Haithabu (Hägg 1984, pgs 55-59) and on the similar sleeve on the tunic in Moselund (picture), since we don’t have any finds of sleeves from wrap-over coats.
  6. The length is also based on the finds in Haithabu.
  7. The coat is lined, which also is based on the finds in Haithabu (e.g. Hägg 1984, pg 75).

Loden Jacket from Haithabu

difficulty level 2

The loden jacket is completely based on finds of parts of a garment made of thick, fulled wool in the harbour in Haithabu (Hägg 1984, pgs  64-68).  We don’t know if it belonged to men’s or a women’s clothing.

Materials: The jacket is made of a thick, fulled wool, preferably with a pile. No remains of lining or buttoning have been found.

  1. The waist seam and the shape of the skirt are based on one of the remains in Haithabu (Hägg 1984, pg 66).
  2. The rounded armhole and the horizontal seam in the front are based on another remain in Haithabu (Hägg 1984, pg 68).
  3. We don’t know how the jacket was held together. No remains of buttons, loops or tapes have been found. It is not feasible to push a brooch pin through the thick fabric. We have to use our imagination.
  4. We don’t have any finds of sleeves connected to this garment and it is interpreted as a waistcoat by Inga Hägg (Hägg 1984, pgs 183-185), but since no sleeveless waistcoats are known from before the 1500s, I have added the same sleeve as on the wrap-over coat. Those who want to interpret the find as a waistcoat can easily omit the sleeves and enlarge the armhole slightly.

Half-Circle Cloak

difficulty level 1

The half-circle cloak is the most uncertain of my reconstructions. It is based on a long and wide tablet woven braid in a woman’s grave from 1000 A.D. in Hørning (red. Iversen 1991, pg 194) and on garment history. Half-circle cloaks were used in Byzantium (picture)and can be found in Scandinavia in later medieval times, e.g. the Bocksten man. This means that they were used both before and after the Viking age. Pictures from England and the Bayeux tapestry  (picture) also show that the half-circle cloak was used in other parts of Europe during the Viking age. A find of a half-circle cloak from 1200 A.D. in Leksand, Sweden (Nockert M. 1982. Textilfynden. Tusen år på Kyrkudden, Leksands kyrka, arkeologi och byggnadshistoria. Falun. I have not read the source yet, only secondary comments.) also has long, wide tablet woven braids along the front edge, just as the cloak in Hørning. It seams like the half-circle cloak could be worn by both men and women.

Materials: We don’t know what the Viking age half-circle cloaks were made of.

  1. The diameter is roughly based on the length of the tablet woven braid in Hørning.The recommendation to put a tablet woven braid along the front edge is primarily based on the find in Hørning but is also supported by the later find in Leksand.
  2. The ties with the wider ends is only one of several possible ways to hold the cloak together. It is supported by pictures from England (picture). It is also possible that one of the finds in Mammen could have been a pair of similar ties (picture). Other pictures seem to show that the cloak was held together with a brooch.



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