How viking clothes and Jewelry were made

How viking clothes were made

The two main materials used were wool and flax, while other animal fibres and plants such as hemp played a minor role. Wool was an ideal fabric for the Scandinavian climate because of its durability and warmth. Sheep were mainly white at the time of the Vikings, so most of the wool was white.

Vikings generally wore several layers of clothing because of the local climate.

  • Linen was probably the favourite fabric for underwear because it was more comfortable than wool on the skin.
  • Silk was an imported luxury that only the rich could afford.
  • Fur was often used for coats and ornaments.

The Vikings dyed their clothes to make them more colourful, but the dyes they used were of poor quality and were starting to fade quickly.

Viking Men generally wore :

  • shirts (The shirts were tight or wide)
  • pants 
  • tunics over their shirts 

To hold their pants, they used belts with silver or bronze buckles, they regularly attached a bag to it to carry various small objects and necessarily a knife, which was an essential tool of daily life.

viking belt reenactment in leather with bronze buckle and knife and bag attached

To protect themselves from the cold, they are long, thick and heavy capes that act as coats. These coats were attached to the right shoulder with exceptionally strong straps or a pin, leaving the right hand free to handle a weapon or tools.

thick and heavy wool Viking cape with brooch on the right shoulder

Viking women usually wore :

  • a long linen or wool shirt
  • a wool dress on top.

Outside, women also wore a cape or shawl to protect them, they also wore a leather belt, a bag and a knife. They sometimes use their pins to attach small tools useful for sewing.

What's left of the Viking clothes?

Since the materials from which the clothing is made easily disintegrate, the archaeological archives have unfortunately not been able to provide us with a single complete example of Viking clothing. However enough fragments have survived and, if we consider them in addition to abundant literary evidence, we can get some clues about what a Viking garment was.

Jewelry, of course, tends to be much better preserved over time, so we have the opportunity to define with relative certainty the jewelry that the Vikings actually wore between the 9th and 11th centuries : The viking age.


How viking jewelry were made

First of all, 

Here are the 5 main functions of jewelry in the Viking age :

  • element of ornament
  • attachment system for closing clothes and/or attaching accessories 
  • symbol of belief and protection
  • social or economic status indicator
  • means of payment for trade exchanges

Throughout the ages, people have always liked to enhance their look. The Viking age is no exception to this law, Vikings from farmer to warrior and from all social levels, wore many styles of jewelry to improve their look. But not only that! The spiritual notion was very present in the relics they wore, often to protect themselves and seek the help of the gods.

Of course, the social class to which the individual belonged determined the material used to make them.

There were 4 of them mainly:

  • Metal / Tin
  • Bronze
  • Silver 
  • Gold

Of course, the Vikings did not only wear metal jewelry cast in gold or silver. They also used pearls, crystals and precious stones to make their bracelets and necklaces, However.... Only if they belonged to the upper class because the poorest created their accessories with amber and glass.

Actually, most of the metal used by the Vikings did not come from Scandinavia, but from various foreign countries through the exchange of coins with the merchants they met. The coins were melted down to form superb jewelry. Silver was the most common metal used to make Viking jewelry.

The different types of jewelry 

Viking Pins / brooches 

Pins were the main means of keeping clothes in place. Used by all, they have also become a means of distinction: Their main function being first and foremost practical, their design has followed the aesthetic styles of the Viking Age, some of them transforming into real jewelry.
In the 9th and beginning of 10th centuries, the shape of the brooches was generally oval, although the brooches worn by women were slightly more varied than those worn by men.

9th and 10th centuries viking age brooches pins oval

During the 10th century, disc-shaped brooches replaced the oval domes.


10th centurie viking age brooches disc-shaped


Viking Necklaces and Amulet

The real difference between necklaces such as Viking neck-rings for example (also called Torc) and pendants, is the more spiritual connotation of the latter, which is more defined as an amulet with a protective and supporting power.

bronze-viking age-neck-ring Moesgaard-museum-denmark

"Bronze neck-rings (Torc) from the Moesgaard museum - denmark"

Archaeological research clearly shows that the Thor's Hammer was the most common amulet in the Viking age, although some other symbols have been found on pendants, this remains anecdotal in comparison to Mjöllnir.

Among the other symbols used as amulet :

  • The round pendants covered with circular motifs that would symbolize the solar star
  • Pendants in the form of miniature tools, symbols of activity and fertility
  • The cross-shaped pendants and necklaces appeared with the evangelization of the Vikings.
  • The stick-shaped pendants which can be interpreted as symbols of the sovereign power of the god Odin, very frequently represented with a stick
  • The rifle-shaped pendants that would symbolize the purifying fire and source of life
  • The cubic seat pendants representing the thrones of Thor and Odin, the main gods of Nordic mythology
  • The pendants in the shape of women found, would represent valkyries, according to archaeologists. Especially when a horn is held in their hands.

museum stockhom viking reliques thor hammer torc neckring earrings bracelet brooches

"various Viking jewels found: Armrings, earrings, Amulets, Thor's hammer... Picture of the Stockholm museum "



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