Trousers

Full breeches gathered at the knee were a widespread fashion in Viking Age Scandinavia and Russia, as known from pictorial evidence such as the Norwegian Oseberg tapestries (Hougen 1940), and Gotland picture stones (Magnusson 1976), and a silver figurine recently excavated near Lund, Sweden (pers. obs., Kulturhistorisk Museum, Lund 1997), and as documented c.950 by the Arab ibn Rustah: '...full trousers of one hundred ells of fabric a pair, and when they put them on, they roll them up to the knees and fasten them there.' (Brøndsted 1965). Fragments of a pair such trousers were recovered from the harbor of Haithabu, and are dated to the 10th century. The remains consist of a wedge-shaped front panel of woolen 'rep' fabric, and parts of the seat and legs, which were made of double layers of crepe-weight wool tabby. The fabric was probably treated by immersion in hot water, causing it to shrink and wrinkle. (Elsner 1988; Hägg 1984; Roesdahl and Wilson 1992; Trott 1988; Wikinger Museum Haithabu, S chleswig: pers. obs. 1994). The front parts of the trousers were dyed red, the rear yellow-green (!).

Reconstruction: 'Rep' is a tabby woven cloth with a pronounced 'rib' in the warp direction. As such fabric was unobtainable in wool, a plain tabby weave was substituted for the front panel. The legs were made from wool crepe (note however that modern crepes are not tabby weave), dyed to suitable shades. The cut of the garment was based on the small surviving pieces from Hedeby, and on the principles of the well-known trousers from the Roman Iron Age Thorsberg moorfind, Denmark (Hald 1961). Fragmentary finds from the early-mid Viking period show that this pattern was still in use (Hägg 1984; Hundt 1981). A drawstring of tablet woven wool was added.

Pattern
References


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