Saga Viking Apron dresses

The wax figures representing the earliest settlers of Iceland in the Saga Museum

The wax figures representing the earliest settlers of Iceland in the Saga Museum

In a previous post, I showed off one of the styles of apron dresses shown on wax figures representing characters from Icelandic sagas at the Saga museum. Here I’m going to show off all of the different reproduction styles on display.

Hallveig Fróðadóttir, 874

The wax figures representing the earliest settlers of Iceland in the Saga Museum

The wax figures representing the earliest settlers of Iceland in the Saga Museum

This first display is of “Ingólfur Arnarson, who came to the country with his wife Hallveig Fróðadóttir in the year 874″ -Saga Museum, and in this display they’ve portrayed the character wearing an apron dress that may be somewhat fitted through the bust and waist, with a flared skirt, and a curved shaped armhole.

Based on the reading I’ve done so far, it looks like a more fitted style like this might be is dated to the 10th Century (rather than the 9th as this display portrays) from finds in Hedeby and Birka.

Shaped arm areas on this  apron dress

Shaped arm areas on this apron dress

Melkorka Myrkjartansdottir

The next figure is wearing a drastically different apron dress – this one appears to be nothing more than two panels of fabric, folded at the top and pinned at the shoulders. The figure doesn’t appear to be wearing a belt to keep the over-garment from twisting around, falling into the fire, being blown about by wind… etc. The panel on the front is trimmed on the side edges such that the trim shows on the “wrong” side of the top part of the garment, and the “right” side of the lower part of the garment.

Mother figure wearing a folded apron dress held with "roach" shaped brooches

Mother figure wearing a folded apron dress held with “roach” shaped brooches

This style seems to be a variation of the Ancient Greek and Roman Peplos, which evolved considerably into the Viking Apron dress. However, this style does seem to have some later historical finds backing it up – from about 1000 CE. In Finland.

“Peploses were worn later in time in many northern European areas, such as in Anglo-Saxon England, and evidence that a similar garment was still being worn around the year 1,000 C.E. was found in a grave in Eura, Finland.”  - Cathy Raymond

In a document from an issue of the Compleat Acachronist (Issue #59) it is suggested that this peplos-style apron dress was used by the people in the area prior to what is known as the “Viking Age”. (Keeping in mind that the people living in the area now Finland were not “Vikings”.)

This figure’s display isn’t dated, but it comes before 1000 CE, and after 874 CE, so although it’s depicted as a more recent story than the first display, the figure is wearing an apron-dress in a style that is far, far older.

Another peplos-style apron dress: Freydis Eiriksdottir

Round brooches on her shoulder at the Saga Museum

Round brooches on her shoulder at the Saga Museum

The character above is also wearing a peplos-style apron dress. It too is two pieces of fabric, folded at the top, and pinned at the shoulder. There are no side seams but this character does have a belt on at least. This display also wasn’t dated, but would be about 1000 CE.

Another peplos-style: Thorbjorg litilvolva

The Volva at the Saga Museum

The Volva at the Saga Museum

The final figure is also undated, but also wears a  peplos-style apron-dress more aligned to a much older fashion, or fashion attributed to a different region and not Iceland. This is unadorned, apart from a contrasting band at the hem.

Conclusions

Like the previous post from the Saga Museum, I’m unsure if the inconsistencies between my other research and the apron-dresses displayed at the Saga museum are backed by their own historical research, if perhaps they developed their display based on Finnish models, or if perhaps they just represent inaccuracies.

With that in mind, although I enjoyed the displays, I don’t think I’m going to base any of my costuming research off their displays.

Sagamuseum – The Saga Museum
www.sagamuseum.is/
Grandagarður, 101 Reykjavík, Iceland
+354 511 1517

Viking round brooches at the Saga Museum

Round brooches on her shoulder at the Saga Museum

Round brooches on her shoulder at the Saga Museum

In my research thus far about Viking garb, it looks as though round brooches to hold up apron dresses were different in different areas where they were found. This suggests that different areas had different fashion trends for their brooches. The brooches show on this figure in the Saga museum are round instead of oval, which was apparently the style found in and dated to ‘Luistari, Eura, Finland, ca 1020-1050AD’ – Source: Quiet Press

Viking-style round broaches at the gift shop in the Turku Castle

Viking-style round broaches at the gift shop in the Turku Castle

Likewise, when I visited the castle museum in Turku, Finland, it was round brooches they had in their gift shop, not oval ones.

Further to this, I found a map via a poster on the forum biodiversity who posted the picture below, (Original source unknown) suggesting that the location of different gravesite finds of different brooch styles can suggest different ethnic groups.

The map shows that the “Gotland” style animal-head brooches were sporadically found in gravesites, mainly in Sweden. The oval “tortoise” brooches were found all over Norway, Sweden, Iceland, and Denmark, with additional finds in the UK and elsewhere. The round Finnish circular brooches were found primarily in Finland and the closest edge to Sweden, with sporadic finds in the nearest area. There have been no finds of these round brooches in Norway or the UK (where most of the original Icelandic settlers came from) nor Iceland itself.

Locations of Viking Age brooch finds

Locations of Viking Age brooch finds

 

 

Note: though I find nothing wrong with it at all, below is an image of a wax figure depicting a bare breast. If that offends you, I suggest you skip to another post.
Continue reading

Viking Ringed Pins

In a display at the Iceland National Museum there was a display which included Ringed Pins. An explanation at the display explained:

“Bronze Ringed Pins and others made of bone are found in both male and female graves; these were used as fasteners for clothes, as buttons had not been introduced for this purpose at this time, but merely as ornaments. Some have Celtic ornamentation, which indicates that they originate from the British Isles.”

Ringed pins and brooches

Ringed pins and brooches

The longest pin was probably 15-20 cm long

Ringed pins

Ringed pins

I’m guessing the shortest pin might be about 10 cm long.

Ringed pins from the Iceland National Museum

Ringed pins from the Iceland National Museum

National Museum of Iceland
www.nationalmuseum.is
Suðurgata 41, 101 Reykjavík, Iceland
+354 530 2200

Viking silver horde

Although this doesn’t directly relate to some of the Viking costume elements I wanted to show off on this blog, I thought that these photos from a silver horde would be interesting to some of my readers. Some of the silver is “hack silver” and is broken jewelry, etc. Silver coins might also be hung from treasure necklaces.

Silver horde from the Iceland National Museum

Silver horde from the Iceland National Museum

The horde display including scales, weights, coins, and other silver.

Silver horde from the Iceland National Museum

Silver horde from the Iceland National Museum

Silver coins

Silver horde from the Iceland National Museum

Silver horde from the Iceland National Museum

A different view of the silver coins.

The description in the Iceland National Museum states that the coins are English, and were buried shortly after 1000 CE.

Silver horde from the Iceland National Museum

Silver horde from the Iceland National Museum

 

Other elements of the silver horde have been dated to the 10th Century.
National Museum of Iceland
www.nationalmuseum.is
Suðurgata 41, 101 Reykjavík, Iceland
+354 530 2200

Neckline variations on Viking garb at the Saga Museum

child figure at the Saga museum wearing a Thor's hammer necklace

child figure at the Saga museum wearing a Thor’s hammer necklace

I already posted about gathered necklines on Viking garb at the Saga Museum, but I thought I’d also do a post on some of the other neckline variations in their displays.

V-Neck neckline

child figure at the Saga museum wearing a Thor's hammer necklace

child figure at the Saga museum wearing a Thor’s hammer necklace

The child pictured here has a slight V-neck shirt, over a square neck shirt in this display from the Saga Museum. There is no date to this display.

Round neckline with front slit

Close up on the tri-lobed brooch on the figure at the Saga Museum

Close up on the tri-lobed brooch on the figure at the Saga Museum

This style above is the style I’m the most familiar with – a rounded neckline with a front centre slit, held together with a brooch. Most commonly I’ve seen this brooch as a small circular brooch, though in this case they’ve used a tri-lobe brooch. This figure is attributed to 874 CE.

Reverse faced neckline

A reversed faced neckline on a woman.

A reversed faced neckline on a woman.

This neckline above is one I see quite commonly on Viking as well as generic “middle ages” garb – the faced neckline (which is a round neckline with a slit) where the facing goes to the right side of the shirt in a contrast fabric.

This figure doesn’t have a date, but it’s prior to 874 CE.

Square trimmed neckline

A square neckline with trim

A square neckline with trim

The last neckline I saw at the Saga Museum is this square neckline with trim.  This represents Þorgeir Ljósvetningagoði the law-speaker who helped usher in Christianity in 1000 CE.

Sagamuseum – The Saga Museum
www.sagamuseum.is/
Grandagarður, 101 Reykjavík, Iceland
+354 511 1517

Gathered necklines for Viking garb at the Saga Museum

The Volva at the Saga Museum

The Volva at the Saga Museum

Please note – lower in this post I’ve photographed a wax model which includes a bare breast. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with it, but if you disagree, you might want to skip this post.

Volva

At the Saga Museum in Reykjavik I saw a neckline that I found interesting – a gathered neckline creating a pleated underdress.  From my Viking research so far, it looks as though there has only been one find of a pleated underdress, however many of the Valkyrie figures suggest pleated underdresses. Continue reading

Viking Costume illustrations

Close up of the Viking Age costume

Close up of the Viking Age costume

In the entrance of the Settlement Museum there were a few interactive activities, mostly geared towards children. One was a list of runic characters suggesting people could write their name in the runic “alphabet”, another was small models of the buildings from the area during the Viking Age to lay out on the table as they appeared on site, one was a Viking game Hnefatafl and then two more were on the computer.

While the first computer game was putting the order of building a long house in the order of construction, the second one was a bit more up my alley – selecting clothing and assigning it either to a 19th Century or 9th Century woman in Iceland.

In this game the player selects various garment items and guesses which age they belong to

In this game the player selects various garment items and guesses which age they belong to

The way the game is intended to be played means that you have to put an item on the character. In my reading so far it looks like Viking women in the British Isles wore headscarves, but heathen Viking Age women didn’t on a regular basis (by grave findings at least). Likewise, the underdress is trimmed at the hem – again my research thus far suggests that no trim at hems have been found. The necklace on the Viking Age woman is also unique, and lastly I haven’t seen research for sideless apron dresses as displayed in the game.

Minjasafn Reykjavíkur – The Settlement Exhibition – Reykjavik 871 +/- 2
minjasafnreykjavikur.is/english/desktopdefault.aspx/tabid-4206
Aðalstræti 16, Old West Side, Reykjavik, Iceland
+354 411 6370