Smaller Garments

The following garments are described in the pattern booklet Smaller Garments. 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.
As opposed to the other pattern booklets, the patterns in this booklet are in natural size, scale 1:1, on a separate sheet.
Except for the garments described here, we also know that puttees and foot rags were worn. They are so simple that patterns are not needed. Puttees consist of about 10cm wide strips of fabric, woven to that width, cut 3-3,5m long and wound around the lower parts of the legs. Remains of puttees have been found in e.g. Haithabu and Elisenhof. Foot rags consist of square pieces of fabric folded around the feet. Used like that they can replace or complete socks. Foot rags are very hard to identify in the archaeological remains but have been in use at least since the Bronze Age.

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 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 Birka.
  3. The posament along the seam is also based on the grave 644 in Birka (Hägg 1986, 70).


Hood from Skjoldehamn

difficulty level 1

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

The hood from Skjoldehamn is totally based on the find in Skjoldehamn in northern Norway where an almost complete hood was included (Løvlid 2009, 39-49, picture). The Skjoldehamn find is probably from the 1100s and thereby doubtful to use for Viking age reconstructions. The Icelandic sagas mention a”hood” used in bad weather and for hiding one’s identity several times (Zanchi 2009).

I believe that it is very likely that a similar, simple hood existed during the Viking age too, even if some parts of the construction can be questioned, like the square gussets and the ridge-like top. In the absence of Viking age hoods I use the Skjoldehamn hood. But I don’t think that we should confuse such a hood for bad weather with wearing the hood as a fashion garment as during i.e. the 1300s.

I should also mention that there is a settlement find in Haithabu that has been interpreted as a liripipe hood from the 900s (Hägg 1991, 55-60, picture). I don’t believe in that interpretation and have not used it here. Liripipe hoods were a typical fashion garment during the 1300s. That this type of fashion should have existed during the Viking age, disappeared, and then returned, feels very unbelievable. Also, the construction of the remains does not look like later liripipe hoods. There is also a hood from the Orkney Islands which nowadays is dated to the Roman Iron Age (Nockert 1997, 94, picture). This is a better basis for a Viking age hood, but the Skjoldehamn hood is closer to the Viking age, both in time and geographically.

In the view of the large insecurity surrounding hoods during the Viking age it is maybe not so strange that we don’t know if they were used by women. In the Icelandic sagas such hoods are always worn by men (Zanchi 2009).

Materials: The hood in Skjoldehamn was made of wool in diagonal twill and lightly fulled (Løvlid 2009, 39-42). It is suitable to make outdoor garment for bad weather in fulled wool, which gives good protection against both rain and wind.

  1. The construction where the main piece is folded double and then cut for face opening and front gusset comes from the original (Løvlid 2009, 43). By this a top is created on top of the face opening. On the original several seams where also sewn along the upper edge, creating a ridge (Løvlid 2009, 43).
  2. The above mentioned construction also creates a connection in the thin area between the face opening and the front gusset (Løvlid 2009, 43).
  3. The braids on each side of the face opening come from the original (Løvlid 2009, 47-49). It is not clear exactly how they were used.
  4. The square gussets are also based on the original (Løvlid 2009, 41, 45). There are also medieval pictures of hoods that are pointed at the bottom.

Socks from Skjoldehamn

difficulty level 1

Pattern in EU shoe sizes 36/39/42/45. The two smaller sizes are ladies’, the larger men’s.

The socks from Skjoldehamn are based on the same find as the hood from Skjoldehamn and the same doubt are valid here too since the find is dated to slightly later than the Viking age (Løvlid 2009, 123-128).

This is a very simple sock model that needs to be used together with puttees, or as in the find, with shorter strips of fabric wound around the ankles.

Materials: The socks from Skjoldehamn were made from undyed wool in diagonal twill (Løvlid 2009, 123). Twill is a suitable material for a garment that needs to be flexible.

  1. The simple construction with the opening at the front is based on the original find (Løvlid 2009, 127-128). This means that something is needed to hold the sock in place, but also that it is easy to take on and off and that there is no superfluous fabric in the way.





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.

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