Leg Bindings

Loom-woven woolen bands, typically 70-100mm wide, are known from Viking Age urban sites, namely Elisenhof, Haithabu, London, and York (Elsner 1988; Hägg 1984; 1991; Pritchard 1984; Trott 1988; Walton 1989). These are identified as leg bindings, a fashion widely represented in early medieval art. Most of the finds are of herringbone twill. Blue dyes were extracted from several London and York examples (Pritchard 1984). Hooked metal tags, or so-called 'garter hooks', are most common in England, but particularly elaborate cast examples are known from Sweden and Russia. Two were located near the knees of a male skeleton in Birka grave Bj 905 (Geijer 1938). Conceivably these functioned to fasten the leg bindings.

Reconstruction:The woolen bands mentioned above were woven as whole cloth, ie. they have selvedges on both sides. As cloth with such narrow loomwidth is not readily available, the 4 metre strips were cut to width from a suitable blue herringbone twill, and finished by buttonhole stitching (raw edges of a silk band from the C10th Mammen burial, Denmark, were finished with buttonhole stitch: Østergård 1991). The bronze hooks were based on a single find from the C9-10th settlement known as 'Ryurik Gorodische' near Novgorod, Russia (Nosov 1987). This hook was almost identical to the pair from Birka grave Bj905.


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