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Notes from Sunnifa Gunnarsdottir's "Norse Accessories" Class


Side view of the incised carving on the 19.6cm round ash wood box from The Viking Dig (Hall, p. 93).


Side view of the split stitch seam joining the two ends of the 10th century York ash wood box lath (Hall, p. 93).


Band Boxes


Also called bentwood or lath boxes, these boxes are made by soaking and then bending a thin slice, or lath, of wood around a form.  The lath is pierced and then stitched to itself.  A bottom is made to match the lath and the two are pegged together.  The groove and pegs on the bottom are what identify the box bottoms in graves.


These boxes were used for carrying everyday objects.  Five boxes found at York are round and one is oval; a circular box was also found in Hedeby.  Carole Morris’s book, Craft Industry and Everyday Life:  Wood and Woodworking in Anglo-Scandinavian and Medieval York, gives some details on the York boxes.


Richard Hall, in The Viking Dig, wrote of the circular York box:

“There are also the unusual objects which stood out from the run of locally made goods, but which are well-known from sites excavated abroad and are thus probably of foreign manufacture. Among these [is]…a decorated wooden box…its ash sides sewn together and pegged to an oak base-plate, which is paralleled at another Viking Age trading centre, Hedeby, near Schleswig, at the base of the Jutland Peninsula, and formerly at the southern limit of Denmark.” (Hall, p. 91)


The Viking, by Bertil Almgren, has a sketch of a woman carrying a band box.  This box lid is made in a traditional Danish style (see left).


A Norwegian decorated round box lid is mentioned in Else Roesdahl’s book From Viking to Crusader.  It is dated from 1025-1075 AD and measures 17.5cm in diameter.  The lid is made of birch bark and a band is sewn to the lid with birch-root fibers.


Johann Hopstad’s article, “Norwegian Bentwood Boxes,” is an excellent description of traditional bentwood box-making.  Hopstad’s construction methods use a long cold-water soak for both the lath and the birch-root lacing.  This is more plausible for Viking construction techniques than the more common Shaker boiling-water bath method.



Artists’ rendition of a Viking Age band box  in use (Almgren, p. 272).



Grave 639 in Birka yielded these metal strips from an 18-inch-long box (Arbman, Taf. 259).



A reconstructed lockable chest from Lejre, Denmark.  No date is given in the text (Haywood, p. 121).














Bamberg casket (Graham-Campbell, p. 144).


Wooden Boxes


Viking boxes of all shapes were meant to hold valuable possessions, and often have lockplates or locks on them.

Most were decorated in some way, like the buckets are.


A survey of coffins at Birka revealed plain rectangular boxes, rectangular boxes with curved lids, rectangular boxes with curved ends, boxes that resembled hollowed-out logs, and boxes with trapezoid-shaped sides that sloped outward towards the top (Graslund, pp. 16-24).


Grave 845 at Birka contained this chest, which sat at the feet of the woman buried there.  The chest features sloped sides and a rounded lid, as well as a forged iron handle and straps.  The reconstructed sketch is about 1/3 of its original size (the grave was close to one meter wide and the chest fragments measure about half that where they lay).  The darker areas show what was actually recovered in the grave.  (Arbman, Taf. 263)














The Oseberg chest is decorated with many iron bands that were held in place by nails with large tinned heads.  It is very similar in shape to the Mastermyr Tool Chest and the box from Grave 845 at Birka.  Like the Birka chest, it has metal straps with animal head terminals.  (Almgren, p. 187, Eyewitness, p. 55)















A sketch of the Mastermyr Tool Chest found on the island of Gotland, Sweden (Arwidsson and Berg, pl. 15).  The Mastermyr Chest was found along with many tools by a farmer ploughing a field in 1936.   The box is made of oak and is 90cm long and 24cm high.  The four sides of the box are trapezoids which give it the distinct shape.  The top is gently curved.  The chest is held together by wooden pegs.  The bottom mortice of the chest joins the sides about 4cm up from the lower edge.  (Arwidsson and Berg, p. 7)




Oseberg handle mount of brass (Almgren, p. 182).


The lid on this reconstructed Oseberg bucket locks in place.  It stored tools used in weaving (Almgren, p. 183).


This bucket from Birka Grave 507, buried around 900 AD, is made of birch wood covered by sheets of decorated bronze.  The handle is plain bronze, but the handle mounts are decorated (Arbman, Taf. 204).






Viking buckets were made of ash, birch, oak, pine, and yew.  Some are plain, while others are decorated wood, with decorated metal bands, handle mounts, and even handles.  Buckets were used to store drinks and food, and to carry all sorts of small items.


The early 9th century Oseberg ship burial yielded the above items.  Note that while all four buckets were buried at the same time and place, they are different in shape, size and hardware (Jesch, p. 32-33).



A group of ceramic and glass items from Birka (Magnus, p. 27).


Birka Graves 539 and 562 contained these beakers (Magnus, p. 2).


Bowls, Cups, Plates and Utensils


Soapstone, steatite, and ceramics were all used to make bowls in the Viking Age.  Lathe-turned cups and bowls were made of alder, field maple and birch at York.  Glass beakers were an imported luxury item, as were tiny silver cups.  Drinking horns were also used.  Beech, fir and oak troughs like the Oseberg ones were used instead of plates.  Spoons were made from bone, horn, metal, and wood (hazel, maple, oak).


This glass beaker was imported to Birka from the Rhineland (Fitzhugh and Ward, p. 118)


One metal and one wooden Viking spoon from Dublin (Sawyer, p.95).


These sketches show designs from wooden troughs found in the Oseberg burial.  The trough below was most likely used to serve food. (Almgren, p. 183)


These two fragmentary wooden bowls dug up at the Midland Bank site are similar to other lathe-turned bowls found in 10th century Coppergate, York (Tweddle, p. 234).






Soapstone bowl (Simpson, p. 60).



Raven coin from the reign of Anlaf Guthfrithsson (Richards, p. 131).


Stamped silver spiral arm-ring imported from Russia.  This style was mostly found in Denmark (Margeson, p. 46).


Bronze buttons from Birka, Grave 716, from 1.3-1.5cm in length.  These were found interspersed with a plaque belt (Arbman, taf. 93 and p. 249).



And for the well-dressed Norse Man…


Penannular Brooch -- ~1” diameter; used to fasten up the neck of the under-tunic

Cloak pins – these run the gamut from plain bone pins to ornate penannular brooches

Ring-Headed Pins – found in Norse-Celtic sites; used to fasten cloaks or clothing

Rings – twisted gold wire and silver wire, also silver bands with stamped designs, jet, amber or stone

Bracelets – tend to be made of silver, either twisted wire rods or flat stamped sheet silver

Arm-Rings – often resemble bracelets and finger-rings, only made big enough to circle the bicep

Necklaces – beads show up in small quantities in Norse men’s graves; other necklaces include torque-style twisted wire neck-rings of gold and silver, respectively; pendants on cord were also common

Garter Hooks – small hooks that held the leg-wraps in place

Buttons – pewter buttons have been found in Birka on pouches and men’s Rus-style riding coats



2.1cm and 3.1cm long copper alloy garter hooks from 10th century York (Hall, p. 104).  These were sewn onto the top of the leg-wraps.


Two granulated cap mounts from different men’s graves at Birka.  Both graves contained “lavish equestrian equipment”.  These are similar to conical helmet mounts like those worn by cavalry on the Black Sea.  These may have been worn on conical leather or wool caps.  The Slavonic-style mounts are imported from the Kiev State (Duczko, pp. 100-101).


Iron striker used with flint to start fires (Almgren, p. 184).



Filigreed and granulated Birka silver crucifix pendant (Duczko, p.56).



Jewelry for the well-dressed Norse Woman


Penannular Brooch -- ~1” diameter; used to fasten up the neck of the shift or under-dress

Tortoise Brooches -- 2-3” length; used to fasten the apron-dress at the shoulders (see photo below)

Equal Armed Brooch – usually found mid-chest; fastened the shawl layer

Trefoil Brooch – originated from Frankish baldric hardware; these also were used to fasten the shawl

Box Brooch – primarily found on Gotland; replaces equal-armed or trefoil brooch

Dog-head Brooch – also a specifically Gotlandic item, these substitute for tortoise/other brooches

Ring-Headed Pins – found in Norse-Celtic sites; used to fasten cloaks or clothing (see photo below)

Rings – twisted gold wire and silver wire, also silver bands with stamped designs

Bracelets – tend to be made of silver, either twisted wire rods or flat stamped sheet silver

Earrings – a few pairs of earrings (of Eastern, not Viking design) have been found in Swedish graves

Necklaces – necklaces were worn around the neck and hanging from the tortoise brooches.  There was a tremendous variety of beads available to Norse women (in glass, metal, horn, bone, amber, carnelian, crystal, jet and other materials).  Coins, extra beads, hacked up gold book mounts and other small objects were suspended as pendants off necklaces to further adorn them. Knit wire necklaces have also been found.


Grave finds indicate Norse women also wore small useful items suspended from the tortoise brooches.  These might include an ear spoon, tweezers, a toothpick and/or a small mirror.  Needle cases, whetstones, small shears, and keys have also been found hanging by chains or cords from tortoise brooches.


The items above come from an early 10th century Norse woman’s grave at Cnip, Lewis, Scotland.  The belt buckle is an unusual find in a woman’s grave.  (Graham-Campbell and Batey, p. 74)




Gold finger-rings from Fladda Chuinn, Isle of Skye (Graham-Campbell, VAG&SoS, p. 251).


Amber beads and jet finger-rings found in a 10th century workshop in York (Hall, p. 80).




Five large Hiberno-Norse silver arm-rings from the late 9th to early 10th century found at Penmon peninsula, Red Wharf Bay, Anglesey, Wales (Sawyer, p. 92).



Bracelets & Rings for Arms, Fingers & Necks


Twisted wire bracelets, finger-, arm- and neck-rings in gold and silver are found all over the Viking world.  This simple technique was used with 2-20 wires.  Plain bracelets and rings are also found in silver, jet and ivory.


Two silver bracelets from Port Glascow, Renfrewshire, Scotland.  The left one has unusual capped terminals on the twisted wire.  The right “ring-money” bracelet is made of square rod with pounded terminals (Graham-Campbell, VAG&SoS, pp. 49, 179).


Jet bracelet found in a woman’s grave in southeast Iceland.  Jet was mined in western England (Fitzhugh and Ward, p. 170).



Gotlandic bracelet of one twisted wire (Thunmark-Nylen, Taf. 150).



Silver neck-ring from the Skaill, Sandwick, Orkney hoard (Graham-Campbell, VAG&SoS, p. 206).




Women’s Brooches


A pair of tortoise brooches makes your outfit look Viking.  To close the mantle, use an equal-armed brooch, a circular brooch (see right), a trefoil, a box brooch, a penannular brooch or even a ring-headed pin.


A pair of dog-head brooches with a single box brooch makes your outfit distinctly Gotlandic.  A quick survey of the Gotland artifacts shows 30 pages of dog-head brooches and only 5 single tortoise brooches, 20 pages of box brooches and only 1 single trefoil brooch.


Round brooches at the shoulders make your outfit Baltic or Finnish.


Silver brooch with filigree cones from Birka, grave 642 (Duczko, p. 87).



One of two horse-shaped brooches from Birka, Grave 854 (Arbman, Taf. 92).



Side view of bronze tortoise brooch from Birka, Grave 605 (Arbman, Taf. 64).


This needle case from Gotland is still attached to the double chain by which it hung from the brooches of its owner (Thunmark-Nylen, Taf. 215).


Women’s Brooch Accessories


The items on this page would all have been hung from a Viking woman’s tortoise (or dog-head) brooches.  At least, that is the burial custom.


Roughly, brooch accessories can be divided into two types—toiletry items (earspoons, toothpicks, tweezers and combs) and sewing items (shears, thimbles, needle cases and a small hone stone).  Toiletry items are often found grouped onto one ring.  Keys hung from the brooches by a chain.


A small chain can be worn connecting the shoulder and mid-chest brooches, though this is found more in Eastern Viking burials.


Where chains are not found in burials, perhaps a leather thong, lucet cord or thin weaving was used instead.  Connecting rings are usually of the thin-wire-wrapped-around-itself-several-times variety.  Chains are mostly of bronze or silver.






Bronze wire linked chain, Birka Grave 968 (Arbman, Taf. 113).


Silver earspoon (6.8cm long) and toothpick (6.7cm long) set from Birka, Grave 507 (Arbman, Taf. 172).


Keys represented wealth and status; women hung keys on chains from their brooches.  (Fitzhugh and Ward, p. 84).


Tweezers from Gotland (Thunmark-Nylen, Taf. 198).


Stem stitch was used for the complex embroideries on the Mammen cloak and tunic.  This is the earliest known example of this stitch used in Denmark. (Hald, p. 280-282)


Watercolor sketch showing detail of the Mammen cloak embroideries, circa 970 AD (Fitzhugh and Ward, p. 78).



Detail of the Mammen embroideries


Embroidery and Sewing


Grave finds of embroidery are limited, but linen and wool do not survive well in graves.  The Mammen grave yielded simple stitches worked in complex patterns; the result is impressive yet easy to duplicate.


In her book Ancient Danish Textiles, Margrethe Hald writes:  “Prehistoric sewing can be divided into two main categories:  that which is purely practical, for example the seams of a garment, and that which is solely decorative and therefore embroidery.  In some cases the sewing serves both purposes.” (Hald, p. 279)


In the photo below right the stitch sews the seam, binds the raw edges and decorates them in one step.  A neckline and cuffs can quickly be finished by embroidering the rolled hem down, saving time and thread.


Stitches which are documentable in 850-1066AD in England are stem stitch, threaded running stitch, running stitch, split stitch, chain stitch, couching and surface couching (Regia Anglorum Member Handbook).  Myette Fentz’s examination of the Viborg shirt gives clear pictures of the seam treatments for this 11th century Danish linen shirt (a translation is available online); an economy of sewing is clear throughout.


This 10th century silk reliquary pouch, embroidered with a cross, was found at York.  It is 3cm high (Hall, p. 90).


Raised fishbone stitch on the Mammen cushion cover.

This stitch sews and finishes the seam (Hald, p. 283).



Filigreed man’s head from Birka with neatly trimmed beard and hair (Magnus, p. 30).


The 10th century Mammen hlad of finely worked gold nalbinding and tablet-woven borders on silk.  Hald proposes that this was a common hair ornament in Viking times, as there is evidence for it before and after in Scandinavia.  The thin band was worn across the forehead to hold the hair in place, and the tie ends were left streaming down the wearer’s back.  There may have been a veil under it (Hald, pp. 321-325).



10th century Dublin silk cap with linen ties (Krupp and Priest-Dorman, p. 48).



Hairstyles and Headcoverings


Whether you need a hat or headcovering depends on your geographic area and time period.  Generally, pagan Viking women showed their hair and Christian Viking women did not.  In one Icelandic saga, a woman simply tucks her hair into her belt.  Silk, linen and wool caps have been found at York, Dublin and Lincoln in 10th century layers.  It is assumed they are women’s caps.  The Lincoln cap was worn with the back unsewn, which would accommodate the traditional knotted hairstyle.  Several pre-Viking hat finds have been made.  The Daugbjerg bog find yielded a small skin cap with a slightly pointed top.  Another option is the Ornkey Hood, a woollen hood with tablet-weaving and a long fringe at the bottom.




10th century silk cap retrieved from a contractors’ excavation at 5-7 Coppergate.  The silk in this cap shares a weaving fault with silk found in Lincoln, which links two major Viking settlements (Hall, p. 88, 113).




Silver amulet showing knotted hair (Fitzhugh & Ward, p. 85).


From Gullmarsberg, Sweden comes this small carving of a man and woman embracing.  The woman’s hair is clearly knotted while the man’s flows free (Sawyer, p. 215).

Tiny figures like this may represent Freyr and Gertha.




Whalebone lucet cord-winder with ring-dot and bird carving (Graham-Campbell and Kidd, p. 60).


Bones skates like this one from Coppergate were tied to shoes, making travel over frozen rivers and lakes easier (Fitzhugh and Ward, p. 136).



Volcanic stone lamp used to burn sea-mammal fat.  Similar lamps have been found at L’Anse aux Meadows and other North Atlantic Viking sites (Fitzhugh and Ward, p. 169).



Interesting Miscellanea





The “Colloquies” of Aelfric Bata, Chapter 27, lists monastic equipment, including a wicker basket.



A carved honestone from Birka (Arbman, Taf. 186).


Wood and iron tool for measuring (Fitzhugh and Ward, p. 302).


Cattle horn container found with the Lews Castle, Isle of Lewis hoard (Graham-Campbell, VAG&SoS, p. 151).


Silver edge of a woman’s drinking horn, Birka Grave 523 (Arbman, Taf. 196).



11th century Swedish rune-stone showing two men playing at tafli (“at board”).  The game might be hnefatafl; boards for this game have been found in Ireland, Gokstad and York (Graham-Campbell, p. 65).



Carved willow wood boat and toy horses (Fitzhugh & Ward, p. 163).  Wood weapons, felt balls and dolls were other toys.


Birka Bread (Magnus, p. 34).




This set of a trader’s bronze balance scales is from Kilmainham, Islandbridge, Ireland

(Sawyer, p. 90).




Bronze Birka buckle with knotwork (Arbman, Taf. 87).


Strap-end from Birka, (Arbman, Taf. 87).


York 10th century openwork

strap-end of copper alloy 5.8cm long (Hall, p. 103).


Plaque belt pieces from Birka Grave 716 (Arbman, Taf. 89).


10th century York bone strap-end, 6.2cm (Hall, p. 81).


Belts and Hardware


Belts were worn by men and women, though fewer pieces of belt hardware (buckles, strap ends, stiffeners) turn up in women’s graves.  The Eura, Finland grave finds show women wearing tablet-woven belts from which hung their decorated leather and metal knife sheaths. 


Belt hardware, Gotland (Thunmark-Nylen, Taf. 134).


Buckle and belt stiffener with stamped design from Gotland  (Thunmark-Nylen, Taf.  126).


Belt Widths at Birka and Gotland by Dirk Jomsvikingr

I measured the scaled photos of buckles and strap-ends shown in Plates 86 through 90 of Birka I:  Die Gräber and 124..129 & 132..139 of Die Wikingerzeit Gotlands to try to understand representative belt widths of the time.  Buckles associated with bridles and other horse trappings were not counted.

Width of a buckle was either the width of the heel bar or connector plate, or, in the case of buckles with wider mouths than connector plates, I used the average of the two.  Strap ends width was taken at the widest point, which was usually where the strap attached.  A total of 23 buckles and 18 strap-ends were surveyed.  The average buckle width was 0.7 inches; the average strap-end was 0.6 inches.





Pouches & Wallets


The metal hardware on these leather goods enables us to reconstruct the original items  here.  The drawstring pouch from Gotland is probably one of those rarely-found items that would have been common then.



Gotlandic lyre pouch frame (Thunmark-Nylen, Taf. 142).


Metal lyre-shaped pouch frame with three buttons from Birka, Grave 949 (Arbman, Taf. 128).


Lyre-shaped pouch with metal buttons and carved leather decoration (Arbman, p. 224).



Gotland drawstring pouch, (Thunmark-Nylen, Taf. 142).


Reconstruction of multi-layered leather wallet found in Birka, Grave 750.  The leather is interwoven with metal strips (Arbman, Taf. 130).


Partial leather wallet, Birka, Grave 904 (Arbman, Taf. 132).




This bird bone whistle, found at York, is 18.1cm long.  It is a common Viking Age item.  (Hall, p. 115)











Anglo-Saxon lyre

(Carver, p. 32)


Music in the Viking Age


Panpipes, bone flutes, bone whistles, and lyres are the instruments that survive from the Viking Age.  No one is sure what Viking music sounded like.


Writing about the York dig, Richard Hall states:  “…a unique discovery, is a set of panpipes made from a small slab of boxwood…. Holes were bored to different depths into the slab, and then the top of each hole was bevelled slightly to allow the player to sound the individual notes more easily and comfortably.”  The other hole is thought to be for a string to pass through in order to hang up the pipes.


Bone flutes, like one found at Sigtuna, Sweden, were made from the long bones of birds or animals and had varying numbers of finger holes (Graham-Campbell, CAotVW, p. 64).  They were played like modern recorders, though with a shorter musical scale.


The Anglo-Saxon lyre (pictured left) was reconstructed by the British Museum, based on small pieces of maple wood found at the Sutton Hoo burial.  The Museum curators used the 8th century Vespasian Psalter as a guide (Carver, p. 29-30).  The 2.7cm high bridge of a 10th century wooden lyre was found at York (Hall, p. 115).  Lyres might have been played as an accompaniment to skaldic verse or singing.

























A photograph of the York panpipes

(Wooding, p. 64).

Text Box:  
The York 10th century panpipes are made from a piece of boxwood 9.5cm high.  After being cleaned of dirt, this set could still produce a five-note scale from A to E (Hall, p. 116).

















Metal scissors and shears from women’s graves at Birka (Arbman, taf. 176).


Beechwood skein-winder, wool comb, shears, and spindle from Oseberg, 9th century (Graham-Campbell, p. 120).



A warp-weighted loom (Fitzhugh & Ward, p. 167).


Textile Tools


Large shears were used on sheep; small shears or scissors were used to cut yarn or cloth.  Small shears, like needle cases, are often found in women’s graves attached to the tortoise brooches by a cord or chain.


Viking women used drop spindles to spin wool and flax into yarn.  Spindle whorls were made of amber, soapstone, bone, clay and wood; whorl shape varied by date and region.  When spindle whorls are found at Viking sites it indicates a settlement, not a temporary camp.


Spun yarn was woven into cloth on warp-weighted looms.  Loom weights were made of clay or stone.  The weft was beaten upward using a sword-beater, so-called because the shape is very like a sword blade.  Sword beaters were made of wood, metal or whalebone and were often highly decorated.  Finished linen cloth was ironed using a glass smoothing stone and a smoothing board (the foreground of the Birka photo on the “Bowls” page shows a smoother and board).



Viking Age polished stone spindle whorls and whetstones from Bryant’s Gill, Kentmere, Cumbria (Philpott, p. 55).  Whetstones, or hone stones, are often found in women’s graves; they used them to sharpen metal needles.



Plain and decorated needle cases from Birka (Arbman, taf. 168).   Needle cases, made of wood, bone or metal, were hung from tortoise brooches and kept metal or bone needles close at hand.



Two soapstone spindle whorls, one  found at the L’Anse aux Meadows house site and one from  Greenland, show remarkable similarity (Ingstad, p. 156).


Styles of Viking Art


Viking art is divided into several main styles of decoration and most items fall into one of these categories.  The following list tells you roughly when these styles were in use.  (Fitzhugh and Ward, p. 66).


Oseberg/Broa                  750-850 AD

Borre                              825-975 AD

Jelling                             880-990 AD

Mammen                         950-1050 AD

Ringerike                        990-1090 AD

Urnes                              1040-1150 AD


Decoration from the Jelling cup (Parsons, p. 30).


Mammen-style decoration (Parsons, p. 36).


Pattern from the Oseberg sledge (Parsons, p. 21).


Ringerike style decoration (Parsons, p. 34).


Borre-style brooch from Hedeby (Parsons, p. 20).


Norwegian Urnes-style brooch (Margeson, p. 3).



Simple 3-piece shoes with top seams and heel seams from 750 AD, Ribe, Denmark (Jenson, p. 28).


The ankle boots with pointed toes from 7th-8th century Staraja Ladoga, Russia.  Note the sole has a pointed heel stiffener; this common trait on Viking shoes helps keep the heel from slouching and the leather from wearing out (Swann, p. 40).




Shoes and Boots


Goatskin was the preferred Viking Age shoe leather, though other leathers were used (see right).  Top seams and turn shoes (where the pieces are stitched together and then turned right side out like a garment) were common.  Shoes and boots were lined with felt to make them comfortable and warm.


Leather Items found at Hedeby:

Goat or sheep   41%

Unknown          36%

Cow/Calf           21%

Deer                     2%

(goat=282 pieces, sheep=18 pieces,

calf=92 pieces and cow=52 pieces)


Leather Items found at Ribe:

Ox                 175 pieces

Unknown        49 pieces

Goat                22 pieces

Sheep              16 pieces

Horse or foal     6 pieces

Calf                   4 pieces

Horse                3 pieces


(from Priest-Dorman, private correspondence)


Pattern for right shoe from the 9th century Oseberg, Norway, burial (Krupp and Priest-Dorman, p. 57).  These shoes are unique in that the pair was found and both shoes were cut differently to fit better.



Three separate goatskin shoes from Coppergate, York.  The boots and child’s shoe are all made with flat soles sewn onto uppers (Hall, p. 83).



Goatskin shoes with typically Viking toggle fastener of antler over instep (Margeson, p. 28).


Bone pins from Udal, Hebrides (Philpott, p. 54).


Norse Celtic style bronze ring-headed pin, circa 1,000 AD, found in the L’Anse aux Meadows, Newfoundland, Viking site (Ingstad, p. 160).


Pins and Penannulars


Pins were used to hold clothing layers together—from closing the neck of an under-tunic to holding a cloak closed.  They range from plain bone to ornately decorated and bejeweled masterpieces.  Many brooches made of round or square rod with bent or hammered ends have been found all over the Viking world (see below).


Wire brooch from Gotland  (Thunmark-Nylen, taf. 80).


Silver-gilt pin from Birka grave 561, 20.4cm long (Arbman, Taf. 42, p. 181).


Pseudo-zoomorphic penannular brooch Okstrow Broch, Birsay, Orkney (Kilbride-Jones, p. 148).




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Ingstad, Helge & Ingstad, Anne Stine, The Viking Discovery of America, Checkmark Books, 2001


Jensen, Stig, The Vikings of Ribe, Den antikvariske Samling, 1991


Jesch, Judith, Women in the Viking Age, The Boydell Press, 2001


Jorgenson, Lise Bender, North European Textiles until AD 1000, Aarhus University Press, 1992


Kilbride-Jones, Howard, Zoomorphic Penannular Brooches, Society of Antiquaries of London, 1980


Krupp, Christina and Priest-Dorman, Carolyn A., The Compleat Anachronist #59:  Women’s Garb in Northern Europe, 450-1000 C.E., Society for Creative Anachronism, Inc., 1992


Liles, J.N., The Art and Craft of Natural Dyeing, The University of Tennessee Press, 1990


Magnus, Bente, Birka, National Heritage Board, 2000


*Margeson, Susan M., Viking, Eyewitness Books, 1994


Parsons, Thomas, Designer’s Guide to Scandinavian Patterns, Studio Editions, Ltd., 1993


Peterson, Irene From, Great Wire Jewelry, Lark Books, 1998


Philpott, Fiona A., A Silver Saga, National Museums and Galleries on Merseyside, 1990


*Priest-Dorman, Carolyn (Thora Sharptooth) maintains an excellent website.


Reader’s Digest Complete Guide to Needlework, The Reader’s Digest Association, Inc., 1979


Regia Anglorum Member Handbook, Rolland Williamson’s October 2002 Updates


Richards, Julian D., Viking Age England, Arcadia Publishing Inc., 2000


*Sawyer, Peter, ed., The Oxford Illustrated History of the Vikings, Oxford University Press, 1997


Simpson, Jacqueline, The Viking World, St. Martin’s Press, 1980


Swann, June, History of Footwear in Norway, Sweden and Finland,

Kungl. Vitterhets Historie och Antikvitets Akademien, 2001


Thunmark-Nylen, Lena, Die Wikingerzeit Gotlands I & II, Almqvist & Wiksell International, 1998


Tweddle, Dominic, Finds from Parliament Street and Other Sites in the City Centre,

York Archeological Trust, 1986


Wooding, Jonathan, The Vikings, Rizzoli, 1998