Caps and Mittens (used to be Smaller Garments)

frontpageHere you can find additional background information about the garment in the booklet Caps and Mittens. Caps and Mittens is the new name of the booklet that used to be called Smaller Garments.

New patterns in the booklet is an additional interpretation of the pointed cap from Birka and two interpretations of the pillbox cap from Haithabu. In the old issue you could find a hood and a pair of socks from Skjoldehamn. These are removed because they probably are too late for the Viking age.

See Bibliography for the total bibliography. For resellers see Links.

As opposed to most of the other booklets, these patterns are in full size, scale 1:1, on a separate sheet.

Cap from Dublin

difficulty degree 1

Pattern in four sizes based on four different finds.

The cap from Dublin is totally based on a number of finds from Viking settlements in Dublin, York (picture) and Lincoln, most of them from Dublin (Wincott Heckett, 2003). They are all from the British Isles but within a clear Viking context. It is very hard to identify similar caps in pictures, but looking at clothing history they might be connected to the coifs from especially the 1200s.

Because the caps are not grave finds we don’t know if they were worn by men or women. On one of them there is a reparation on the ”wrong” side (Wincott Heckett 2003, 44-46, 59), which might indicate that they were worn under another headgear, something which was common for similar simple caps during later periods.

Materials: All caps in Dublin are made from thin, quite loosely woven wool, woven to the right size, or in a similarly thin and loosely woven silk, both in tabby. Wool is more common than silk (Wincott Heckett 2013, 44, 89-96). The caps in York and Lincoln are made from the same type of silk (Walton Rogers 1989, 360).

  1. The little tip on top of the head is found on most of the caps in Dublin and Lincoln (Wincott Heckett 2013, 45). On the more well-known cap in York it is cut off (Walton Rogers 1989, 360).
  2. The cap is small. I have taken the sizes on the pattern sheet from four of the finds in York and Dublin (Wincott Heckett 2003, 56-74, Walton Rogers 1989, 360). The cap from York is clearly the largest; the others are very small and should reach about to the ear.
  3. Remains from the tape knotted under the chin have been found on one of the caps in Dublin (Wincott Heckett 2003, 69). On many of the other caps the existence of the tape is indicated by the fabric which is pulled forwards (Wincott Heckett 2003, 59, 64, 66, 70, 71, 73). On the cap from York the tape has been fastened higher up and was probably made of linen (Walton Rogers 1989, 361). There are other possible ways to fasten the cap, but this is the only one that fits with the finds and also keeps the cap in place.

Round Cap from Birka

difficulty degree 2

Pattern in hat sizes 56/58/60/62.

The round cap from Birka is based on finds of tablet-woven braids in some of the graves in Birka. The rest of the shape is unknown but based on the silk remains in grave 944 (picture) it should have had a rounded shape that fits with the four-panelled caps from Moshchevaya Balka. Therefore I have used them for the reconstruction.

This cap was probably worn by both men and women. The women normally wore it with an under-tunic decorated with the same type of tablet-woven braids. Men could possibly decorate the cap with posaments instead of tablet-woven braids.

Materials: There is very little left of these caps in Birka, only small silk remains, and in a few cases wool remains, in connection to the metal decorations (Hägg 1986, 65, 70). The caps in Moshchevaya Balka are all made of silk woven in samitum, a complex patterned twill (picture). In the Birka case we know nothing of the lining, but all caps in Moshchevaya Balka were line, in at least one case with fur (but no fur edging). Unfortunately I have not found out the materials of the linings, but they look like thin silk on the pictures. The tablet-woven braids in Birka are normally made of silk with brocaded patterns in drawn silver thread. The posaments are made of silver thread.

  1. The shape of the caps in Birka is very insecure. I have chosen to base it totally on the caps in Moshchevaya Balka (picture), which fit very well together with the well kept seam on the cap in grave 944 in Birka (Geijer 1938, 62 and plate 13).
  2. The tablet-woven braid around the bottom edge is what often identifies these caps in Birka (Hägg 1986, 65). In Moshchevaya Balka there are no tablet-woven braids. In grave 944 in Birka there was instead a posament along one of the vertical seams.


Pointed Cap from Birka,

difficulty level 2

Pattern in hat sizes 56/58/60/62.

The pointed cap from Birka is based on several finds of tips and hanging ornaments at the heads in Birka (Hägg 1986, 70, picture).  A number of Viking age pictures and figurines (picture, picture) support the interpretation of a pointed cap, even if it is possible that they depict helmets instead.

This cap seems to have been worn mostly by men, but it might be possible that remains have also been found in at least the woman’s grave 750 in Birka (Hägg 1986, 65). In the Icelandic sagas a ”Russian cap” is mentioned several times. It is often interpreted as a pointed cap (Zanchi 2009), probably of this type. In the sagas this cap is always worn by men and the same counts for the pictures and figurines.

Materials: On the metal parts connected to this cap in Birka remains of silk have been found (Hägg 1986, 70). No remains of wool have been connected to this cap, but that might be coincidence. The pointed cap in Moshchevaya Balka is made of silk woven in samitum (picture). Just as with the round cap we don’t know if there was a lining in Birka, but the cap in Moshchevaya Balka is lined. To get a standing cap an interlining might also be needed. There are no finds of an interlining so that interpretation is solely based on practicality.

  1. The shape of interpretation 1 of the cap is primarily based on the pointed cap in Moshchevaya Balka (picture). There was probably a hanging variety too, which might have been longer and certainly lacked interlining (picture).
  2. A metal top connected to a cap has been found in Birka grave 644 (Geijer 1938, plate 33). Similar metal tops have also been found further east. Hanging metal adornments of other types have also been found in toppmössaBirka.
  3. The posament along the seam is also based on the grave 644 in Birka (Hägg 1986, 70).
  4. The shape of interpretation 2 of the cap is based on figurines, especially this one depicting Thor (picture).


Pillbox Cap from Haithabu

difficulty level 1

Pattern in hat sizes 56/58/60/62

pillerburk.-leensThe pillbox cap is based on a fragment from the settlement area in Haithabu (picture). It is made of wool fabric, napped on both sides and with a pile on one side. The pile is on the same side as the seam allowances which by Inga Hägg is interpreted as the right side. I would rather believe that it is the wrong side. The mitten from Akranes below clearly has the pile on the wrong side, and it is a good way to make the garment warmer. The fragment consists of a rounded and a straight piece sewn together, which is consistent with a pillbox cap and I believe that the napping and pile strengthens that interpretation, but we don’t know anything more about its shape.

pillerburk-aalsumIn the Netherlands several complete or almost complete caps have been found, mostly dated to the Vendel period or Viking age. One of those is a simple pillbox cap from Leens (above, also see picture) with a shape that is very similar to the pillbox caps from Greenland (picture). Another of the Netherland caps, from Aalsum (to the right, also see picture), has a different bottom line with an opening for the face which must have been very warm and cosy. The same type of opening can be found on caps from Moshchevaya Balka (picture). Both are possible interpretations of the Haithabu fragment.


Mittens from Akranes

difficulty level 2

Pattern in glove sizes 7/8/9.

The mittens from Akranes are based on a find of an almost complete mitten from the 900s on Iceland. Sewn children’s mittens have also been found on Iceland, but I have here only used the adult sized mitten (Lehmann-Filhes 1896). The mitten from Akranes is really modern and advanced in its cut; it fits the hand very well and gives a good mobility. It is a good alternative to the needle bound mittens which were more common.

Materials: The mitten from Akranes is made of coarse, tightly woven wool with a pile on the inside (Guðjónsson 1962). It must have been really warm and soft when it was new.

  1. The outside being larger than the inside is based on the original find (picture).
  2. The well cut thumb which gives the good mobility comes from the original find (picture).
  3. The gusset that enables you to put the mitten outside the sleeve also comes from the original find.

One Comment

  1. Pingback: DIY: Leather mittens for the shield hand | Sippe Guntursson

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