In 1936 a body was discovered in a bog near Skjoldehamn (Skjold harbour) on the Norwegian island of Andøya. The find included a complete costume consisting of a shirt, a kirtle, shirt, belt, trousers, ankle-wrappings, socks, shoes and a hood.
The find was initially thought to date from the 18th or 19th century but has since been re-studied and re-dated several times (by Gjessing in 1937, by Holck in 1988 and by Nockert & Possnert in 1998). During its latest examination, done by archaeology student Dan Halvard Løvlid, in 2009; it underwent an AMS (Accelerator Mass Spectrometry Radiocarbon Dating) and was re-dated to 1050-1090 AD, placing it in the late Viking period.
The find is highly popular and the clothing items often re-created amongst Viking Age re-enactors, not in the least the hood. The following post presents my interpretation of the hood in an attempt at re-creating it with a few modifications.
The pattern of the original hood is very basic as it consists of only three pieces (Løvlid, 2009); one rectangle and two squares, approx. 30-60 cm wide. The squares, which were used as gores in the front and back of the hood, had been left un-curved thus widening the skirt of the hood to fit over the shoulders, giving the hem a measurement of approx. 138 cm.
The main part of the hood was folded lengthwise and stitched together in the back and on the top. It was also split up the middle to form the facial hole and to insert the front gore (Løvlid, 2009).
I created my own pattern (seen above) based on these premises, which can be found in this downloadable Skjoldehamn hood tutorial. Although the re-created hood is based on its original, all measurements have been adjusted to fit my own size.
The fabric of the original hood is a woolen 2/2 twill in a dark brown shade with a dark grey warp and a lighter grey in the weft. The warp was made from the coarser and stronger outer hairs of a fleece, while the weft was woven in the softer under-hair. I used a scrap-piece of diamond twill with a red warp and a dark grey weft. I also lined the hood with a grey 2/2 twill.
The gores on the original hood were attached with whip stitches in a dark brown wool but here I’ve used a regular running stitch in a linen thread but then felled the seams with whip stitches.
The bottom edge of the original hood was neatly whip stitched and there is no evidence that the hem was folded over. Since my hood is lined with a second fabric I did fold the edges (inwards) and sew them together with a small running stitch in a red-brown wool thread.
The edges on top of the original hood had been folded inwards and sewn together with whip stitches in a grey-brown wool thread. Two additional seams run along the top; one in a dark brown wool beginning near the facial hole running 3-8 mm below the edge and one, in the same wool as the hood’s warp, running 10-15 mm parallel to the top. A fourth seam runs 22-27 cm below the edge in an angle from the back of the hood, deepening toward the front, creating a comb like appearance.
I’ve chosen to only recreate one of the seams, which runs 10-20 mm below the top edge.
On the sides of the original hood, just below ear-height and approx. 13 cm from the bottom hem, a pair of braids had been sewn on and were found as being tied underneath the chin. The left-hand chord is fully preserved at 19 cm long and with a tufted end. It had been braided with two pairs of olive-green and two pairs of red-brown threads in a clockwise spiraling pattern (Løvlid, p 47-48, 2009).
Gjessing first proposed that these strings were used to close the facial opening (I assume by being tied underneath the chin) (Gjessing, p. 40-41, 1938) while Løvlid implied that they had been tied in the neck in order to widen the facial opening and improve peripheral vision (Løvlid, p. 159, 2009). However, the hood doesn’t show any distortion on the fabric were the strings are attached, which suggests that the strings were gently or rarely used.
I’m not very good with finger braiding so instead I made two simple lucet cords in a dark grey wool yarn. I attached them to the hood just below ear-height but made them 40 cm long so that they can easily be tied either way. On a colder, windy day it’ll be nice to be able to tie them underneath my chin and when the weather allows; behind my neck to open up the hood.
It has also been debated whether the thread patterns in contrasting colors found sewn onto the original hood from the outside were meant as decorative embroideries or simply used for whatever practical purpose.
A red thread had been sewn using whip stitches along the right-hand side of the facial opening, running from the bottom over the top of the hood and down 15 cm on the left-hand side, before being replaced by a yellow thread which continues to the bottom.
Another, golden-colored thread, decorates the back seam of the hood with slanting basting stitches (Løvlid, p. 46, 2009). I’ve included both ’embroideries’ in my tutorial and drawn up the sketches below to show the extent of the stitches. However, I chose not to re-create them on my own hood, as they’re still very debatable.
PS. Thanks to my husband for modeling the hood for me!
Dan Halvard Løvlid – Nya tanker om Skjoldehamnfunnet, Institutt for AHKR Universitetet, Bergen, 2009
Dan Halvard Løvlid (English translation by Carol Lynn) – The Skjoldehamn find in the light of new knowledge, 2011
Gutorm Gjessing – Skjoldehamndrakten. En senmiddelaldersk nordnorsk mannsdrakt, Viking, Tidsskrift for Norrøn Arkeologi. 2, p. 27-81, 1938
Per Holck – Myrfunnet fra Skjoldehamn – Mannlig Same Eller Norrøn Kvinne?, Viking, Tidsskrift for Norrøn Arkeologi. 51, p.109-115, 1998
Margareta Nockert & Göran Possnert – Att Datera Textilier. Oslo: Gidlungs Förlag, 2002