Recreating the Skjoldehamn textile finds

I am forever curious about excavated textiles. The first thing I look for in a museum, any museum, is excavated garments and shoes. It fascinates me to no end.

In 2019, I finished my Golden Egg project in Drachenwald and it was so inspiring. For this reason, I have decided to embark on a new research & recreating adventure: the Skjoldehamn clothes.

I have been doing Viking re-enactment outside the SCA since 1994 and one popular item has always been the Skjoldehamn hood. Back then, I never really looked into it. I had enough handmade authentic looking garb already.

When I re-joined the SCA in 2011, I became more curious about the Skjoldehamn clothing because, to my surprise, a rumour had begun to spread that the garments COULD have belonged to a woman. Wait? REALLY?

The Skjoldehamn body was found in a bog near Andøya in Norway in 1936. The body was found wearing a hood (kaprun), outer shirt (kofte), under shirt (skjorte), trousers (bukser), a belt, ankle wrappings (ankelkluter) and ankle straps (ankelsurringer), socks (lester) and shoes (sko).  The body was wrapped in a blanket (teppe). To this day, it remains a mystery whether the body died in a sacrifice or in a battle.  

Back in 2008, MA archaeology student  Dan Halvard Løvlid, from the University of Bergen in Norway, got interested in writing a marvellous thesis, which formed the basis of a new complete empirical study of the Skjoldehamn costume. 

New study by Dan H. Løvlid and his team showed the garments are dated to approximately 1050 AD. You can read the English version here; the Norwegian version can be found here.

Art by Berit Løvlid

I get help with the Norwegian translation from Lady Ekaterina Vasili (https://www.arnfriduri.xyz/) and Lady Emoni de la Fère.

I will recreate most of the garb set: hood, outer shirt, under shirt, trousers, belt and socks.  

I will not recreate the burial blanket; I am still alive after all…. Joking aside, I have a warm enough cloak already that fits with the style and era. The perks of doing re-enactment for a very long time!

The second challenge that goes with this project is to make something out of thrifted fabric. I want to spend no more than €40. Not only will this hopefully help a newcomer who wants to test the waters before investing, it might also help a longterm member without breaking the bank. Let’s not forget  the environmental & sustainability perspective! Recycle! RECYCLE! Help Mother Earth a bit.

And now? I am off to the thrift shop!

Nalbinding

If you know me, you know how much I love naalbinding, nalebinding or nalbinding. It is a very ancient craft, dating from at least 5000BC. At events, you will be able to spot me in a corner teaching someone this beautiful craft.

A few samples of nalbound items I made over the past 10 years

If you like, keep an eye on the tutorial section, for regular updates and lessons. But today, this isn’t about a lesson for you. Today, I am not going to explain how this craft works and how it is done.

I have just discovered a new thing myself, something that I didn’t know until recently! A close friend sent me an email the other day about nalbinding in The Netherlands. Yes! Seriously!

In 1924, a textile fragment was excavated in the small town of Roswinkel in Drenthe; a beautiful region in the north-east of The Netherlands. The fragment is small and the bog has coloured the threads a dark orange. Archeologists have no idea what it was… A bag? A hairnet?

If you want to see this bit of excavated material, you must go to the Drents Museum

One thing is sure though, the stitch is the buttonhole stitch, or blanket stitch. In nalbinding, it is often called the Danish stitch. I am happy I now have a stitch that was found in The Netherlands! Look at the (tiny) map hereunder, the distance between Roswinkel and Ribe in Denmark is only 5 hours by car. Walking, this is about 2 weeks. I know this sounds far, but not undoable! Is it possible the Danish stitch travelled south?

Roswinkel in the north-east of The Netherlands

Tell me what you think of this! I look forward to your thoughts!

Rotta

I have been a bit busy. Come, sit and warm yourself by the fire. Over the past few weeks I have made my house in order for the coming winter and I have packed several belongings for my trip. It will be a while before I see my beloved Allecmere.

I have travelled Rotta, and it took me three days to get here on foot. I am spending the colder months in Rotta, with my amazing family. This is their farm. I do this most winters, did you not know?

Rotta is a settlement that became modern day Rotterdam. It was founded on the river Rotta and dates from the 9th century. Recent excavations gave us an idea of the type of houses, which are now being recreated just outside Rotterdam. We know the township was called Rotta, from two church records in Latin, dated 1028 and 1050.

Here is a clip of what Old Dutch sounded like in those days. I have transcribed the first minute for you:

Language in Rotta, how did Old Dutch sound in 11th century Rotterdam?

Old Dutch is the eldest language phase of the Dutch language and was spoken from the 7th century till the middle of the 12th century.

In the early middle ages, Old Dutch was spoken from the north of France, in Belgium, till the middle and south of The Netherlands. It has several characteristics of the German language and it has characteristics of English and Frisian.

We know Old Dutch from the short poem Hebban olla vogalan, but luckily there are more sources. Important are the Wachtendonk Psalms and the Williram from Egmond. From these texts and from more language sources and deeds, we were able to get a very clear picture of how Dutch sounded in the 11th century.

The oldest house in my town

Have a seat! My dear traveller, have I got a story for you today!

Allow me to take you to the 15th century. The city of Leiden was a large town, growing fast with the weaving industry. The hustle & bustle must have been amazing in those days.

The growing town attracted plenty of newcomers, many looking for a fortune. One of them, a person without a name sadly, was able to build a house right in the city centre.

The house was built between 1460-1466, according to architectural study and dendrochronology. The main part and front part of the house were built of wood and the facade was later, in the 17th century, replaced by a stone facade.

The back of the house was added later and dates from 1488-1500. From the early days, till about 2019, the building has always been used as a family home. But not too long ago, it became part of a hotel and was beautifully restored. So, yes! You can actually sleep here! You know you want that!

**disclaimer: this is NOT a sponsored post, I receive nothing if you book a room in this hotel!

The fire place was also examined and research has shown it is more than 500 years old.

During the 2019 restoration, a cellar was re-discovered. For centuries it was buried underneath the house. It has now been restored back to its original purpose; isn’t this a wine cellar to die for?

Leuven

I am happy to tell you about this gorgeous city in Belgium today. Leuven, or Louvain, is a beautiful medieval city about 25 kilometres from the Belgian capitol of Brussels.

The earliest mention of Leuven (Loven) dates from 891, when a Viking army was defeated by the Frankish king Arnulf of Carinthia. According to a legend, the city’s red and white arms depict the blood-stained shores of the river Dyle after this battle. After several excavations conclusive evidence of this legendary battle was never found, so this story is probably just a myth. A nice one, but still a myth.

Leuven became the most important centre of trade in the duchy of Brabant between the 11th and 14th centuries. A token of its former importance as a centre of cloth manufacture is shown in that ordinary linen cloth was known, in late-14th-century and 15th-century texts, as lewyn (other spellings: Leuwyn, Levyne, Lewan(e), Lovanium, Louvain).

In the 15th century, a new golden era began with the founding of what is now the largest and oldest university in the Low Countries, the Catholic University of Leuven , in 1425. The city then became a major European center for art and knowledge with humanists like Erasmus working there. This period also saw the completion of many of the city’s most grandiose monuments such as the Town Hall.

Town Hall

The Groot Begijnhof of Leuven is a well preserved beguinage (from the French term béguinage, is an architectural complex, created to house beguines: unmarried lay religious women who lived in community without taking vows or retiring from the world) and completely restored historical quarter containing a dozen streets in the south of downtown Leuven.

Begijnhof

About 3 hectares (7.5 acres) in size, with some 300 apartments in almost 100 houses, it is one of the largest remaining beguinages in the Low Countries. It stretches on both sides of the river Dijle, which splits into two canals inside the beguinage, thus forming an island. Three bridges connect the parts of the beguinage.

Begijnhof

It will not surprise you, that in 1998, the Begijnhof was officially recognised by Unesco as a World Heritage Site.

source: Unesco

September Giveaway

Yes, it is that time again, the Giveaway for September 2020 is around the corner! Are you a subscriber yet? If not, you can’t participate… you don’t want to miss it 🙂

Do you remember the May Giveaway? Here’s a picture of what I made back then and the lovely Lady Branwen was the winner.

For September it’ll be a surprise but you can be sure it will be handmade with a lot of love, by me of course. I am thinking…. blue & green…. or brown…..

I have just one question: send me an email, so that I know you are ACTUALLY reading this and tell me what you would like me to change/add to this blog.

Sign up!

Compleat Anachronist

In July of 2020 my first Compleat Anachronist was published! I am so happy I was finally able to finish it and to share bits of it with you here. Now, if this isn’t a good campfire story, then I don’t know!

I am aware that some of my followers already know this, but there are those who don’t. So, if you like and this is new to you: read on!

The CA is about the care for orphans in the Middle Ages in Holland; these children stood out because they wore distinctive garments that immediately identified them as orphans.

You can order your copy of this Compleat Anachronist here, at about $5.