Viking age hoods: Jorvik & Dublin

Cap after the Jorvik cap, in linen with silk embroidery

Cap after the Jorvik cap, in linen with silk embroidery

In an earlier post, I mentioned that I wasn’t really interested in making a Jorvik hood as it’s a fairly simple cap, and I already had a simple linen cap not too dissimilar for early period garb.

However, I attended a Samhain feast in Montengarde (Calgary) and one of the women I’ve chatted with a bit was running a class during the day (before the delicious food graced our tables) on the Jorvik and Dublin hoods (from examples found in Viking-era digs at both Jorvik (York, England) and Dublin (Ireland)). In the class she had a handout (link here), as well as an example of a finished hood, so during the class I made one style (Dublin), and then later on (on a long car ride up to Edmonton) I made the other style (Jorvik) from some lovely thin linen I got on a terrific sale from Later still, I made a lined linen one using a scrap of fabric left over from a dress I made in the same fabric yet again in the Jorvik style, with some silk-thread herringbone stitching for decoration. (This one is much smaller, and much likely more accurate.)

Archaeological  support finds these simple caps from ninth and tenth century grave finds in Christianized areas in the UK, however no similar head coverings have been found from the same age in Viking Age Scandinavia. This suggests that as a general head-covering, this may be more about culture, fashion, to denote marital status or for religion specific to the UK rather than a general Viking Age fashion or for warmth/ protection from the elements.

With those being said… the hoods aren’t document-able for the areas ~I~ am looking at portraying, but are suitable for the Norse world in the time period I’m interested in… so I’m adding them to my kit with that in mind.

Jorvik Hood

The Jorvik Hood (or Jorvik Cap, since it’s really more of a cap than a hood, but commonly it’s known as a hood…) is formed from a rectangle of cloth, and has a rounded top with ties to secure the hood under the chin.

3 caps were found in York (Jorvik) all made of silk. The Viking Answer Lady suggests that ties on these caps were made of linen.

Brígiða Vadesbana writes that a similar cap was found at Lincoln in silk, and that the “Jorvik Hoods” were slightly longer than the Dublin Hoods, and the ties were placed higher at the front edge. She also writes that the front edge of the hoods was placed on the selvedge edge of the fabric, and that the edges were rolled. She reports that the back is sewn up on the Jorvik hood, but that the Lincoln hood did not have a sewn back seam. 
Brígiða Vadesbana also writes that one of the silk hoods was found with linen ties; she followed suit with her own interpretation, as she suggests linen is more sturdy and less likely to wear or stretch over time with use.

My versions

Cap after the Jorvik cap, in linen with silk embroidery

Cap after the Jorvik cap, in linen with silk embroidery

Its important to note that I have a much larger-than-average head (I think I’m a 24 where most women have a 22?) so the hood looks larger on the foam head than it does on my own. The hood above is the smaller version of the hood I made last. It is tabby-weave linen, dyed navy blue, and self-lined. I like the fit of this one best of all, for a variety of reasons. First it sits further back from my face, and is more comfortable that way – though it feels more ‘decorative’ than warm. The lining means that I didn’t have to treat the seams the same, and thus I could create a much smoother curve. It was completely hand-sewn, and has linen ties.

Cap after the Jorvik cap, in linen with silk embroidery

Cap after the Jorvik cap, in linen with silk embroidery

This smaller hood is hand- prick-stitched along the edges with thread pulled from the fabric, so it completely blends into the fabric. From there I took some teal silk threads from yardage (another project I have going on at the same time…) and did a herringbone stitch through the top layer and inner seam allowance.

Prior to the smaller version, I also made a larger version (above). This is in the same tabby-weave linen dyed navy blue. It has linen ties, and was completely hand-sewn (apart from the long inner stitches on the ties which are unseen). I opted to do a very deep hem on the front of the hood, which helps the front of the hood stand away from the face when the ties are loose.

Dublin Hood

The Dublin Hood (or again, the Dublin Cap) is similar to the Jorvik Hood as it’s one main piece made from a rectangle of fabric, and the point is left on, but with an angle top-stitched to fit closer to the head.

Caps found in Dublin, Ireland were made of both silk and wool; 4 in silk and 12 in wool

Brígiða Vadesbana writes that the Dublin-style hoods were found in 10th and 11th century archaeological layers, made from a rectangle of fabric. She writes that on average the original rectangle was 48 x 17cm, and folded in half, sewn up the back, with a stitched line with the peak left intact. She adds that the hems were rolled if not on the selvedge, with bottom hems generally being turned up twice. She also notes that hems may have had a decorative whipcord attached. For the wool hoods, she reports that they appeared to be have been woven to size, while the silk ones were cut from larger yardage, using the selvage for only one edge of the hood; the other hemmed. Very few ties from these hoods have survived, though wear indicates their presence and location. One surviving silk tie was from a silk hood of the same self-fabric.

She also notes that some examples of Dublin-style hoods have been found and theorized that not all of the back seam was sewn – she speculates that this may have been for women with long or thick hair which would not fit under a hood with a back seam, especially when in a bun or braid.

My version

Large cap after the Dublin cap in linen

Large cap after the Dublin cap in linen

The first hood I made was this Dublin-style one. It is in the same tabby-weave navy linen. The entire hood was hand-stitched (and I thought the ties would drive me nuts….) I actually completed it on site during and after the class.

Large cap after the Dublin cap in linen

Large cap after the Dublin cap in linen

This hood has a very, very deep hem, only because I cut a lot of fabric, and just decided to use what I had rather than cut it down further. I actually really liked the deep hem, because the weight and stiffness of it helps the front of the hood stand away from the face when the hood is untied, which keeps me from loosing my peripheral vision. Tied, as shown in the photo, the extra depth in the hem doesn’t matter, and it also ~feels~ like a warm hood – perhaps if it were in insulating silk or wool.


In the category of caps – I also found additional caps referenced – though their cuts and styles weren’t noted.

  • 1 cap, content unknown, found in Dokkum, Netherlands
  • 1 cap of silk found at Birka, Sweden, Grave 946, secured with a silver tablet-woven band.

As two of these caps were found outside of the UK, could these have been sole survivors, women who were buried in a different fashion than ‘normal’ – or perhaps women who had been brought to their resting places from the UK?

In addition to the simple caps in the style of the Jorvik and Dublin Hoods, Margaret Sanborn speculates on a variety of head-coverings based on bog and grave finds, along with artistic depictions of Viking Age women (such as the presumed valkyrie and goddess pendants/figures). She itemizes:

  • Sprang caps – like hairnets found on bog bodies which pre-date Christian influence.
  • Headbands – tablet woven bands possibly worn with a veil, found at Birka
  • Head scarves – knotted at the back, an interpretation from the goddess figurines. Women’s head scarves she notes are also mentioned in the Viglundar saga.


Gerritsma, Brenda. ( Dublin (Hiberno-Norse) cap – closed back. Accessed December 2014
Gerritsma, Brenda. ( Dublin (Hiberno-Norse) cap – open back. Accessed December 2014
Gerritsma, Brenda. ( How to make a Dublin (Hiberno-Norse) cap. Accessed December 2014
Gerritsma, Brenda. ( Jorvik Style cap. Accessed December 2014
Sanborn, Margaret ( Viking Age head-coverings. October 2013, accessed November 2014.
The Viking Age (,_Scarves,_Hoods_and_Hair_nets) Caps, Scarves, Hoods and Hair nets. Accessed November 2014
Viking Answer Lady ( Viking Age Hairstyles, Haircare, and Personal Grooming. Accessed November 2014

One comment on “Viking age hoods: Jorvik & Dublin

  1. […] with drawstrings. That being said, these hoods are not associated with Scandinavia – but with the Netherlands, and the UK, so regional representation is displayed throughout the game – and often combined. Often female […]

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 )

Twitter picture

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

Facebook photo

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

Google+ photo

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

Connecting to %s