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Viking Clothing     List of Categories







  • What kind of clothing did the Vikings wear?

    They bundled up in their furs and woolen clothing in the winter, and cooled off with their linen or silk clothing or thinner woven wool in the summer... they didn't have cotton at that time. The women wore "shift" type dresses with aprons over them to prevent stains, etc. The men would dress in tunics and leggings in several layers so they would be warm or would cool off in summer. They used darker colors in winter, lighter natural colors in summer (they didn't have air conditioning, other than the natural kind)! Shoes, when they wore them, were made of the skins of animals that they had raised and used other parts for food, utensils, cups, and many other things.

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  • Did the clothing vary between the richer and poorer Vikings?

    The higher classes wore clothing made from linen (from the flax plant), wool (from sheep) and in some cases silk imported from Asia. The reasons for this were money and land availability. If a Viking had a large enough farm with slaves to run it, he probably had enough land to grow flax and have large herds of sheep. He was also making enough money to trade those and other items to buy very expensive silk. As a result, he had enough clothing for several outfits of different kinds. The lower free classes wore mostly wool and linen since the money for silk was not available. Linen clothing was common but not as common as wool due to the fact that sheep are easier to "grow" than flax, and can survive in much harsher conditions. Slave classes mostly wore coarse wool garments that frequently were hand-me-downs from their masters or other people. Linen was too expensive to waste on them.

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  • What was the difference between menís and womenís clothing?

    The exact types of clothing that were worn during the Viking Age varied by region and season, but below is a general answer: Men and boys wore a tunic, trousers, shoes of leather (if wealthy enough), socks, and usually a belt. In the winter they wore an extra tunic and wore either a woolen cloak or a type of primitive coat closed with a belt. Linen was used for summertime garments and as an undertunic in the winter, and wool Ė being much warmer Ė was used in the winter. Women and girls also wore a tunic, but instead this garment was dress length. It was made from the same materials as the menís clothing. Women of higher classes also had one different garment that they wore over their tunic called a "hangerok" or "apron dress". This garment was usually shin length and fitted to the body. It looked very much like a "jumper" style dress with straps over the shoulders that were attached in the back a pinned in the front with brooches. There are many variations on this garment and historians argue over which one is correct. They also wore shoes, belts, cloaks and coats. Women and men of higher class however, wore more jewelry than those of lower classes. Vikings liked color and nearly every piece of clothing was dyed, which depended on what area they lived in and what plants were available to use for dyes. They also embroidered and trimmed their clothing with tablet woven braids (similar to very wide and flat friendship bracelets). There are several books on the Viking Age with great pictures of clothing, one is: "The Vikings Recreated In Color Photographs" by Nurmann, Schulze & Verhulsdonk, Windrow & Greene Ltd. Also, a great website to visit is Regia Anglorum at www.regia.org, and if you click on "everyday life" you can find many examples of Viking Age clothing and activities.

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  • How did Viking women dress?

    Viking Women like the men, the women liked to dress well too. The women wore a loose dress made of wool or linen and used brooches to hold it up. Sometimes they wore material over this, which was wrapped around the woman, under the armpits. It was held up by two shoulder straps that were fastened with oval brooches, sometimes called 'tortoise' brooches because of their shape. This over-dress often had a band of decoration at the hem. Women carried things they needed, e.g. combs, scissors, on chains hanging from a brooch. Married women covered their hair with a scarf. Cloth leggings or some kind of sock were also worn. A woolen sock dating from the Viking age has been found at York, England. It was once white with a red trim and it shows traces of having been patched!!

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  • What were Viking shoes like?

    Vikings wore shoes of soft leather. But sometimes they left the fur of the animal on to preserve the warmth. A leather shoe is made as follows: First the upper is cut from sheep skin or calf skin. Then the sole is cut from cattle hide. The stitching holes are then punched around the edges of both. Then the shoe is stitched inside out on a wooden foot-shaped block (called a LAST), using linen thread or leather thongs.

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  • What were the trousers/pants like?

    Vikings wore long, cloth trousers which can be narrow or baggy. They wound strips of leather up in the knee in crisscross patterns. The length of the trousers varied. Merchants and traders picked up new ideas about how to dress from their travels and some wore baggy, eastern-style trousers. Viking sagas tell us that it was fashionable for a while to wear skin-tight trousers - some were so tight that they were difficult to get on and off! They also tell us that men often wore under-trousers for extra warmth in the winter.

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  • What is a Kirtle?

    A kirtle is the Viking word used to describe the knee length shirts that the Viking men wore. It usually had sleeves. Vikings sagas tell us that men also wore short - sleeved undershirts made from linen or wool. They often wrapped leather belts around their kirtles. Their Viking shirts were made of wool and could be dyed a single color. They could be embroidered with silk or metal threads.

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  • What were the cloaks made of?

    The Vikings wore rough, woolen cloaks, and they also used animal skins as cloaks. The length of these Viking cloaks varied. Fragments of a tapestry found on the Oseberg ship, which was excavated in Norway, show men in short cloaks. Other cloaks hung to the ground like those the men are wearing in certain carvings on Viking stones. To fasten the cloaks they used pins. Many pins found during excavation digs in Waterford were on skeletons of both men and women. The Vikings made two types of pins - plain pins and also ringed pins which had a small ring on top of the pin. The design of the pins is of Irish origin and was copied by many Viking craftspeople. These pins have been found in England, Scandinavia and most interesting of all, in Newfoundland in Canada.

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  • What did the Vikings wear for hats?

    The Vikings had long hair and long moustaches with neatly trimmed beards. On their heads they wore hoods or fur caps. Of course when they went into battle they wore helmets. Women would often wear a scrap of fabric, called a kerchif.

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  • What kind of armor did the Vikings wear?

    A wealthy Viking might have a chain mail jacket or headpiece to protect him in battle, but it was very costly, so not too many normal Vikings had it. They depended upon their skill with weapons instead of armor. Chain mail was made of rings laced together or plates that overlapped. Often, Vikings also wore a leather vest as protection.

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  • Did Vikings wear jewelry?

    Wealthy Viking women wore jewelry of gold and silver, brooches, bracelets, armbands and rings. Some of the metal used in this jewelry came from the chalices and crosses which had been stolen from monks in Irish monasteries. Many brooches with animal patterns have been found in digs at Viking sites.

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