Viking hood research

London Hood style hood

London Hood style hood


After I had already completed two hoods (and figured out which one I far prefer over the other..) I wanted to do a bit of research before considering making up a third (in some lovely winter-white wool that I’ll frankly never use for anything else…)

There seems to be four different types of hoods, each attributed to the Viking Age by re-enactor sewers posting on Pinterest, but I wanted to research and record what I could find about the four types before going much further with my project.

The four most common types seem to be:

  • Jorvik hood – really more of a simple cap (relatively low/no waste construction)
  • Skjoldehamn hood – a hood made from low/no waste rectangular construction
  • London hood – a hood with shoulder gores and flared seams (creating possible waste)
  • Bocksten hood – a hood with flared seams but no shoulder gores (again creating possible waste)

(There are other hoods as well, like the Orkney hood which some re-enactors like as a Viking hood, but the Orkneyjar dates the hood at considerably earlier than Viking Age.)

Jorvik Hood

Since this design is really more of a simple cap, and not something I was interested in making right now (I already have one in linen for generic ‘early period’ dress-up) I didn’t spend too much time on this.

See a version here, from Vicktoria Embroidery on Deviant Art.

General shape

From Historical Tidbits:

“Caps such of this general shape have been found in Viking-era digs at both Jorvik (York, England) and Dublin (Ireland).”

They offer a version in green linen here, but point out that with the pointed top is is more similar to the find at Dublin than Jorvik.

This hood appears to be little more than a folded piece of cloth, with a curved seam (or straight seams) creating a simple shape.

Historical evidence

The Viking Answer Lady describes the Jorvik Hood as:

“a type of hood formed from a rectangle of cloth with a rounded upper, and which fell in the back to cover the head and neck. Examples of this type of hood have been recovered from the Viking finds at Jorvík (Viking York) This type of headgear was equipped with ties to secure it under the chin. Surviving examples are in silk, with linen ties.”

Additionally she notes that the Dublin Hood is similar, but made of wool, and having a point at the back of the head rather than a curve. She doesn’t note the dates of either find.

Dagrun Halldorstottir (likely a SCA name) chose to make a Jorvik hood/cap because it was closer to her 9th Century persona, but didn’t identify a date of the find itself. She does have some discussion about fabric choices with her reconstruction, (noting that she chose wool and linen instead of silk and linen) and an illustration of the finds from Coppergate.

The Jorvik Viking Centre on the other hand has more information – based on a nearly-complete silk hood-shaped cap, they describe the item from the late 10th Century, and shaped from a rectangle of fabric. The find is missing the linen ribbons to tied it, and had been repaired with a patch. They identify that almost identical caps were found elsewhere, and the silk would have come from Byzantium (Istanbul),  or “perhaps via Kiev in Russia, which in the 10th century was a Viking ruled town”.


I don’t really want to make this hood, so didn’t think too much about it. Still, I don’t mind having the resource in case I want to come back to it!

Skjoldehamn hood

General shape

Skjoldehamn style hood (with some alteration)

Skjoldehamn style hood (with some alteration)

From Othala

“The shape of the hood is based on a find from Skjoldehamn on the Norwegian island Angoya. It’s made with two rectangles sown to each other on top of the head. In the front and back two square wedges were set in, here in the same size. Sown high under the throat to protect from wind and cold.”

A version they offer online is made from dark red wool, completely lined in linen, with front, back, and side embroidery.

My sketch:

Rectangular construction hood (not to scale)

Rectangular construction hood (not to scale)

The Hurstwic re-creation group also show a hood like this, however they have opted for a smaller front square gore with a larger back one. (And what appears to be a drawstring or neck ties at the front of the hood opening.

Ciar made this hood, and docummented some of the process in her blog.

On The Purple Lotus, Jahanarabanu Vivana re-created this hood as well, and discusses the original measurements and the measurements she followed as well, which were very similar, accounting for changes in the original’s measurements due to deterioration. (She used a 55×55 cm square for the main body, and 22×22 cm squares for the gores.) She notes that she adjusted the measurements for a better fit, but didn’t give the measurements in her document.

Historical evidence

Rebecca Lucas shares that woolen clothing from a bog find on the Norwegian island of Andøya, near the Skjold harbour (Skjoldehamn) was discovered in 1936 and studied and at the time was dated to the late 15th or early 16th Century. However further study drastically changed the theorized age of the find.

  • 1988 – Per Holck, using radiocarbon dating estimated the age of the blanket and bones to 1000-1210 CE
  • 1998 – Nockert & Possnert dated the textiles to 995 – 1029 CE
  • 2009 – AMS dating  used accelerator mass spectrometry radiocarbon dating to date the find from 1050-1090 CE.

The individual was wearing an under tunic, over tunic, pants, hood, hose, leg wrappings, shoes, a braided belt, and carried a knife. He or she (evidence is unclear on the gender) was wrapped in a checked blanket and was laying on a reindeer skin.

The hood is made up of rectangular/square shapes, which is an efficient use of fabric. Rebecca notes that there were strings or cords on the hood which may have been to close the hood tighter in bad weather, or may have been used to pull the hood back to increase peripheral vision – however she notes that the fabric where the strings were attached wasn’t warped, suggesting the strings weren’t used frequently if at all.  The strings were attached one on each side of the head below the ear, and on the find were tied under the chin. The hood was made of wool, and finished with simple embroidery and hand sewing stitches. The hood in the find has a top seam (on the top of the head) which is tapered to create a larger face opening than the hood size at the back of the head.

Another sketch of the finished hood, including placement of the embroidery and cords can be found on Prosjekt Fritid, though the English summary is very brief, and translating the whole article from Norwegian may be desirable.

In the document Norwegian Viking Clothing, the author (Dobrogniewa, which I presume is an SCA name) adds that the back square gore is larger than the front.

Carol Lynn writes in ‘New thoughts on the Skjoldehamn Find‘  a number of other theories and thoughts on the find, many materials borrowed from Dan Halvard Løvlid’s ‘Nye tanker om Skjoldehamnfunnet’. Some of the comments differ from the other articles on the topic, which I found interesting.


In summary, it looks like this is a definite consideration for Viking hood recreation.

London Hood

London Hood style hood

London Hood style hood

There seems to be a number of different hoods with the same general style, each named something different. For ease of sorting the hood styles into general categories, I’m going to stick with the name “London Hood” but discuss the research for each hood within this area by itself.

General shape

The general shape of the hoods that I’m categorizing as “London hoods” include a flared front and back, with an additional gore for the shoulders. These hoods also have liripipes (tails).

The pattern I used is below – though the top/middle gore was a personal choice and has no documentable evidence to support it.

Hood with gores (not to scale)

Hood with gores (not to scale)

Historical evidence

Hedeby (Denmark) Hood

The first hood I’ll look at is called the Hedeby Kaptur/Hood (Heddeby) hood from Denmark. The document “Danish Viking Clothing” (authors Dobrogniewa and Thyrvald, likely SCA names) says that the hood has the liripipe, and is similar to another find in the Norwegian village of Sunnfjord.  The hood is made of  loosely-woven wool. The article does not include dates.

The Viking website also mentions the Hedeby hood, and describes it as having a liripipe which was one piece of folded cloth. The hood was folded along the top, sewn up the back, and a “small dart (8cm at widest point) inserted at the bottom”.  I think that by dart, they mean gore, with the size and the word ‘inserted’. Like the document above, they only include this in a discussion of Viking Age attire, and don’t include the date.

Rosie Wilkin shares a number of photos of the remaining fragments in The Hedeby Hood Fragment, but also doesn’t offer a date.

Wikipedia states that the Hedeby settlement (an important trading centre along the Danish-German border) flourished between the 8th and 11th Centuries. It states that the settlement was abandoned after it’s destruction in 1066.

In The Viking Age Graves from Hedeby, Silke Eisenschmidt states that the grave finds from Hedeby have been dated from the 8th to 10th Centuries, though the author notes that the excavated grave finds thus far represent only a small portion of potential graves from the area.

When drafting my pattern, I referenced Cynthia Virtue’s How to be a HOOD-lum: Medieval Hoods for some measurements. She references Heather Rose Jones’ pattern layout as well which is pretty fabric-conservative for a pattern with as many curves as it has. Cynthia offers some illustrations, but the designs she suggests are only “medieval” and not specifically dated or related to the Viking Age.

Herjolfsnes (Greenland) Hoods

Marc Carlson categorizes these hoods as Nockert, Type 3 hoods, and describes this category as:

“”Hood cut in two equal parts, with a seam above the skull. Liripipe cut separately. Short cape (10-15 cm long) with diagonally cut neck and gore inserted on each shoulder. Narrow Neck (43-47 cm). Liripipe length varies between 47 and 68 cm, width 2-6 cm.””

He goes on to add that cutting the hood with the liripipe would then include the “London Hood no. 174”.

Marc lists 11 hoods with this classification; 9 from Herjolfsnes, the London Hood, and the Sunnfjord Hood.

  • Herjolfsnes no. 71 – From Nörlund, Poul. “Buried Norsemen at Herjolfsnes: an archaeological and historical study.” – a simple short hood with a three part triangular gore on each side of the neck.
  • Herjolfsnes no. 72 – From Nörlund, Poul. “Buried Norsemen at Herjolfsnes: an archaeological and historical study.” – a hood with a semi-circular gore on the neck and a separately cut liripipe.
  • Herjolfsnes no. 73 – From Nörlund, Poul. “Buried Norsemen at Herjolfsnes: an archaeological and historical study.” – a hood with a 1/4 circle gore at the shoulder
  • Herjolfsnes no. 75 – From Nörlund, Poul. “Buried Norsemen at Herjolfsnes: an archaeological and historical study.” – a hood with a space for a gore, but no gore shown.
  • Herjolfsnes no. 76 – From Nörlund, Poul. “Buried Norsemen at Herjolfsnes: an archaeological and historical study.” – a hood with a 1/4 circle gore at the shoulder
  • Herjolfsnes no. 77 – From Nörlund, Poul. “Buried Norsemen at Herjolfsnes: an archaeological and historical study.” – a hood with a 1/4 circle gore at the shoulder. Marc added that he heard that new radiocarbon dating placed this hood at 1427-1513 CE.
  • Herjolfsnes no. 78 – From Nörlund, Poul. “Buried Norsemen at Herjolfsnes: an archaeological and historical study.” – a hood with a small triangular shoulder gore and a long, three-piece liripipe.  Marc added that he heard that new radiocarbon dating placed this hood at 1427-1513 CE.
  • Herjolfsnes no. 79 – From Nörlund, Poul. “Buried Norsemen at Herjolfsnes: an archaeological and historical study.” – a hood with a small triangular gore and a tiny wedge creating a nub where the liripipe would be.
  • Herjolfsnes no. 80 – From Nörlund, Poul. “Buried Norsemen at Herjolfsnes: an archaeological and historical study.” – a hood with a triangle-shaped gore and a long, tapered liripipe.

The Herjolfsnes finds are from a large number of graves found in 1921 in the old Norse colony of Herjolfsnes (Herjolf’s Point) in Greenland. The settlement was founded around 985 CE and was later abandoned approximately between 1375 and 1410 CE. It’s probable, based on the styles of the garments and what is known of the site that the finds are from within the 14th and early 15th centuries. Marc goes on to summarize the archaeologist who excavated the site (Poul Nörlund) that the Greenland colonies were less wealthy and far more distant from the main cultural centers of Europe and although they demonstrated an understanding of the popular trends on the mainland, there was a cultural ‘time lag’ for styles to distill down from the trendsetters on the mainland to the colonies.

London & Sunnfjord (UK & Norway) Hoods

  • London hood no. 174 was dated to the late 14th Century, and was made of tabby-woven cloth.  It has as short liripipe cut with the hood, a flared back seam, and the triangular-shaped piece from under the chin was used as a gore at the shoulder.  – From Crowfoot, Elisabeth; Frances Pritchard and Kay Staniland. Textiles and Clothing, c.1150-c.1450.

The London finds, Marc writes were dated largely to the latter half of the 14th Century, and were from the Baynard’s Castle Dock, excavated in 1972.

  • The Sunnfjord hood – From Nockert, Margareta. Bockstenmannen, Och Hans Dräkt.  – Marc noted that the date of this hood is unclear, and that it may not be medieval.  It has a shaped front and back over the shoulders/chest, a triangular-shaped gore for the shoulders and a separate cuff for the face opening. The back of the hood is rounded.

General notes

Jennifer Baker, in Looking for the Evidence, the New Varangian Guard has a list of extant Iron Age, Viking, and Medieval hoods. In the category of “early Medieval” (8th -11th Century) she records  hoods with and without liripipes, and gores. Her list of 5 extant hoods from this age reads as such:

“Hoods with out tails / lirpipe – 5
Hoods with tails / lirpipe – 0
Hoods with no gores – 4
Hoods with front gore – 1
Hoods with Back gore – 1
Hood with shoulder gores – 0”

However, shoulder gores and liripipes were found on hoods in both the ages before and after the ‘early Medieval’ period. (One hood with shoulder gores found in the period “Iron Age to Early Medieval” and two hoods in the “High Medieval 12-14 C.”.


While it looks as though the Hedeby hood may fall within the right time frame, (based on the age of the settlement and of the grave finds) the finds from Greenland fall past the dates I’m looking at… which leaves me feeling conflicted. On one hand the settlement may have been behind the times…. but a few hundred years is a LONG way behind the times. Still with examples from before my goal time period with the features I want…

Oh heck.. I’m going to make what I want – and I liked the shape of this style much better! At least I’ll know that it might not be as documentable as I’d like….

Bocksten hood

The Bocksten hood is based on a find in Sweden, and I saw very few examples of this hood being shared (as a Viking hood) in my initial online wanderings.

General shape

One example of the pattern layout (complete with measurements) is on Vikings It shows a hood with a one-piece construction with a fold at the top of the head, a wide flared neckline/shoulders, and a curved seam on the back of the head. There are no gores, and the amount of wasted fabric would be considerable. Moreover, the shape of the wasted fabric would not lend itself to another significant garment. (I often think not only of how much fabric is leftover, but what else could be made from the leftovers…)

The image on Vikings is the only one that gives a speculative pattern, so it’s entirely possible that if their pattern is ‘off’ – then the design for this is similar to other hoods.

On their website, the Vikings recommend this Bocksten hood, a Heddeby Hood, or a Balaclava-style hood, but provide little research, focusing more on construction. (I found it difficult to interpret their Heddeby hood pattern, so opted not to include it here, and as they state that no balaclavas have been found, I’ve skipped that as well as a hood option. (The same instructions are shared on Colan verbatim.)

Historical evidence

From the PDF Swedish Viking Clothing by various authors, (broken links) the find was of a man found in a bog wearing a hood with a liripipe (tail), unlined tunic/shirt, semi-circular cloak, and hose. He also had a fabric bag, shoes, foot coverings, a belt, a leather sheath and two knives.

The hood was the best-preserved garment, made of heavily fulled woolen twill.

“The Hood, the shoulder cape, and the liripipe were all cut from a single piece of fabric. with the selvage edge forming the opening for the face. The neckline and chestline have been cut away to give sufficient width to the shoulders. The Liripire is joined in two places. The upper piece was joined by a seam along the underside. The lower portion was cut in two pieces, joined by a seam along the upper and lower sides. The Hood was completely dismantled during conservation, and at no time, no trace was found of a lining.”

Other parts of the document suggest that the discovery was dated to 13th Century, however the styles of clothing were “outdated” and considered to be of an older style.

The document is repeated nearly verbatim on an article attributed to Marc Carlson.

From Wikipedia, the find has some speculative dates.

  • Albert Sandklef suggested the date of the find at 1360s
  • Margareta Nockert suggested the 1330s
  • Owe Wennerholm suggested that the hood was worn over a very large time frame and dates it between 1250 and 1520
  • In the late 1980s the cloth was radiocarbon dated  with a 95% chance of accuracy at between 1290 and 1410.

The Hallands Kulturhistoriska Museum has photos of the original (?) finds. The website is in Swedish, but the site offers Google translations on site. It describes the original as having a 90 cm long “tail” (the liripipe), and a wide cape/collar. The site indicates that the fabric is 3-shed twill woolen cloth, and is a very heavyweight fabric. The hood has been sewn with flax (linen) thread. The original hood was grey, though due to the acids in the bog, it’s now dark brown, it was a different colour than other parts of the outfit. They suggest that the cape/collar was worn under the coat, rather than on top as is typically shown by re-enactors. The hood has wedges (gores) at the front, and a small wedge (gore) at the back. There were panels of another fabric (red – not sure with the translation) which covered the seams of the front wedge – looking like an upside-down “V”. The neck width is 65 cm, the height 69 cm, and the bottom width 160 cm. The liripipe (90 cm long) is 3.5 cm. wide, tapering off to 2-3 cm wide at the tip. The thread count is warp – 12 Z-spun threads/cm, weft 8 S-spun threads/cm. The loom width would have had to have been 65 cm wide, and it would have taken approximately 150 cm of fabric. (1.5 meters) I THINK they give the measurement for the face-opening fabric at 70 cm, though Google didn’t want to translate that word!


Considering how wasteful of fabric this design is, and that even the earliest possible date is still later than the age I’m looking to recreate for a Viking-era wardrobe, I’m not considering trying to work with this design.



2 comments on “Viking hood research

  1. alesmv says:

    phantastic info .. !!!!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.