Gokstad belt recreations


Then and now : the mound after the opening and the current state.

Dear reader, welcome back on this site that is dedicated to research and reenactment!

This time, we will examine belt components from Gokstad mound, Southern Norway. Being covered with 50×43 meters big mound and consisting of a richly furnished ship, the grave is one of the most well-known Scandinavian burials (more here and here). The buried person was probably a man of high rank that was connected to ruling family. Thanks to dendrochronological analysis, it was found that the timber for the burial chamber was cut in the first decade of the 10th century, and therefore the whole grave can be dated to this period (Bonde – Christensen 1993).

Even though the grave was robbed and all weapons and valuables were presumably taken, the presence of organic remnants – like skeletons, leather and wooden objects – as well as some cast products, makes the grave significant. However, the only scientific overview of the find was published by Nicolay Nicolaysen in 1882. It might seem some objects are not even treated in the book, while others are not depicted or described, but we have to realize that the mound was re-opened several times, namely in 1925 and 1928/9. From around 1950 onwards, Gokstad grave has been given academic attention several times, that covered bone, wood and metal analysis, detailed scanning of wooden objects and non-destructive documentation of the mound and near landscape. This delicate work has brought some light into how colourful the grave was originally (for example Bill 2013).


The grave of Gokstad recreated. Made by Ragnar L. Børsheim, Arkikon.no.

Among the finds, there were also many belts components. Before the experimental part of this article, it has to be said that it is not able to determine the sets, nor which components could be waist-worn and which were used as parts of horse bridles. That makes reconstruction extremely difficult, virtually impossible. To sum up, there are at least six belt buckles, at least nine strap-ends, at least seventy-four mounts of eleven different kinds and at least three belt slides. The complete list can be seen or downloaded here. Given the fact the burial consisted of twelve horses, eight dogs, several birds etc., it is very probably the most of belts belonged to animals. In the text below, you can read two different approaches of experienced reenactors and owners of custom-made Gokstad belt recreations. They both try to portray Norwegian high rank men from the 9th/10th century.


Reconstruction of the bridle from Borre. Taken from Unimus.no.


Reconstruction of the bridle from Gokstad.



Selection of belt components from Gokstad. Taken from Nicolaysen 1882.

joschJosch Weinbacher

Mannschaft der Ormrinn Brands, Austria

Belts are a crucial parts of reenactor kits. I consider them to belong to the basics, that everyone should get for a start, next to a tunic, trousers, shoes and a simple everyday-use knife. For a lower class character basically everything that can bind the tunic at the waist can serve as a belt. There is, hovever, a tendency towards richly decorated belts, and reenactors often purchase beautifully looking belts with rich fittings, even before doing proper research. I was no different in the beginning, I have to admit. When I started, I bought the first „viking-style“ belt, labelled so because of an overall nordic style, but absolutely not fitting to the region and time I wanted to depict (Norway in the 9th century). It was, in fact, not nordic, nor even early medieval at all, as I found out later.

I could have avoided that by doing my research, but also by taking smaller steps first. A simple D-shaped buckle would have served me perfectly, as I now recognize, and in my opinion even a simple leather strap, a piece of hemp rope or a pleated band would have been sufficient.

After a while, when my ambitions grew and my methods of research got better, I recognized that the issue with belts was a big one, because of a simple fact: tunics, trousers, shoes and knifes are somewhat generic in their overall look, it is hard to specify a reenactors region and timeframe by them alone. The fittings of a belt, however, can identify a person, if they are shaped according to a specific find. That is not only true for belts, but for jewellery in general. That’s way you can easily spot for example a brooch from Gotland on Norwegian woman’s apron, and it can be supposed she did not do her research properly. For belts it is much the same, regions and timeframes get mixed and mingled with others or are chosen wrongly, horsegear appears on people, and even unintended crossdressing can happen. Therefore, I decided that I had to purchase something that would fit the region and timeframe our group depicted better. The Gokstad ship-burial seemed obvious in that regard, because I am the leader of our group and was supposed to show some wealth in my kit.

This was actually of a great difficulty for me. Showing wealth in your kit is, to some extent, forcing you to be wealthy in reality too. Of course a modern recreation of a period piece does not match the worth of the original, but they can be quite expensive anyways. Needless to tell any reenactor that this hobby is an expensive one, I am sure.

When I decided to get myself Gokstad belt, I checked out some artisans who cast belt-fittings, located in Germany. The prices were stunning, and in the end I went along with a kind of poor recreation from an e-shop, that only featured the buckle and strap-end I desired, but no further ornaments, and it was smaller in size than the original. I went along with that for some years, but I was never fully satisfied. It was by mere chance that I later discovered a maker in Poland, who had quite reasonable prices and sold belts with Gokstad fittings. The assambling of the belt was not perfect, because the fittings were placed in a way, that they would be visible if one used the famous belt-knot that is widely accepted in reenactment, but for which there is not real evidence I have knowledge of. So I ordered the fittings only, and intended to assemble the belt myself.

Meanwhile I asked one of our group members, who had allready gained some experience in dying leather with period ingredients, if he could dye a strap for my belt in a bright red, making the finished piece more imposing. He came up with a recipe he found in the Mappae Clavicula, speaking of red wine and kermes. Cochineal was used as a replacement for kermes, again a matter of finances. The result was great. The belt did not become bright red, as intended, but took on dark, almost purple red, much like the colour of wine. For me, it is mostly that colour that makes the belt so great. When the ormaments arrived in the end, I only had to assamble the whole thing. Now I’m finally satisfied with my attire, even if the belt is not yet finished, since I’m still lacking one specific fitting, that I will add when I manage to find it. So my journey to a beautiful belt was a long one, and I have not yet fully completed it, but I am happy that my kit is again a bit improved. And that is, by all means, a process, that can never really end.


tomasTomáš Vlasatý

Marobud, Czech Republic

During my reenactment “career”, I have had about five or six belts. Some of them were done with pure fantasy, others were based on particular finds. In the beginning of 2016, I started to feel the need for a new belt, that would fit to my 10th century Norwegian impression. To be honest, it is not so easy to find a well-preserved belt, consisting of a buckle and a strap-end, in the region. Therefore, I decided for Gokstad.

My incredibly skilled friend Jan Bana from Storrvara took the task and made the set to order. During the process, he kept me updated by photos, so I could make some correction online. After several months, the bronze set was done, for a really reasonable price. The set consists of a buckle (C10437), a strap-end (C24239c) and twelve mounts (6×C10445 and 6×C10446). My friend and fellow Jakub Zbránek mounted the components to an impregnated belt for me.

It is true that my choice was quite hasty and motivated by the urge of recreation of unique objects. Indeed, some components are, to my best knowledge, the first imitations after 1100 years. Due to my decision, we were forced to make the buckle a bit smaller than the original, with a bronze tongue and without a folded sheet; the find from Hedrum (T1620) can be an analogy, when it comes to reconstruction. Another mistake is that no component is gilded. The biggest fault, however, is the usage of mounts, that were, with high probability, parts of horse bridles. If I spent more time doing the research, I would save money, and more importantly, my kit would be more accurate. On the other hand, my mistakes encouraged me to write this article. The fact that I was wrong is very important for me and my future progress. I am sure that I am going to order a new one in some time, a belt that would be more accurate and that could be called “a replica”.


Before the very end, let me express my thanks to Josch Weinbacher. In case you found this article inspiring, feel free to share it in your community or let us know. For any questions or notes, please, use the comment board below. Love the past, enjoy the present and look forward to the future!

  • Bill, Jan (2013). Revisiting Gokstad. Interdisciplinary investigations of a find complex investigated in the 19th century: In: Sebastian Brather – Dirk Krausse (ed.), Fundmassen. Innovative Strategien zur Auswertung frühmittelalterlicher Quellenbestände, Darmstadt: Konrad Theiss Verlag, s. 75–86.
  • Bonde, Niels – Christensen, Arne Emil (1993). Dendrochronological dating of the Viking Age ship burials at Oseberg, Gokstad and Tune, Norway. In: Antiquity. A quarterly review of archaeology vol. 67, 256, p. 575–583.
  • Nicolaysen, Nicolay (1882). Langskibet fra Gokstad ved Sandefjord = The Viking-ship discovered at Gokstad in Norway, Kristiania.

“The man from Voll”


Drawn reconstruction of a man from between 850–950 AD. Based on graves from central Norway, including the grave from Voll. Taken from Hjardar, Kim – Vike, Vegard (2011). Vikinger i krig, Oslo, p. 47.

After a month of hard work, I would like to present my article named “The man from Voll : An example of a well-preserved Norwegian male grave“. In this short article, I provided a summary of the rich and well-preserved content of the 10th century inhumation mound from Voll, Overhalla municipality, Nord-Trøndelag county, Norway. The work is supplemented with an abundant catalogue and short reports about the making of spear sheath replicas (Are Pedersen) and a cross-shaped dress pin recreation Roman Král). The article summarizes organic objects in Viking Age graves and suggests how these objects could have been used in the everyday life.

The article can be downloaded by the following button. I hope you will enjoy reading this article. If you have any question or remark, please contact me or leave a comment below. If you want to learn more and support my work, please, fund me via Patreon or Paypal (ceskyreenactment@gmail.com). Thank you!

Norské saxy a bojové nože

Nůž z Osebergu.

Po článcích o bojových nožích z Haithabu, Švédska a Ruska mám tu čest představit přehled norských dlouhých nožů doby vikinské. Každý exemplář je opatřen krátkým popisem a pokud možno obrázkem. Kromě nožů jsou rozebrány také pochvy.

Článek je možné prohlédnout či stáhnout zde:
Norské saxy a bojové nože doby vikinské

English summary

This article is a short summary of what we know about long knives in the Viking Age Norway. Two main sources were used – Petersen’s Vikingetidens Redskaper and UNIMUS catalogue. The result is only a representative number; the article is not complete.

In Norway, long knives were used until the 10th century. From 16 more or less preserved blades, 2 knives belong to the Merovingian type (ca. 100 years old by that time) and were deposited in 9th century graves. In the 9th century, Merovingian type was replaced with lighter, narrower and shorter knives. The typical knife used in Viking Age Norway had a straight blade with relatively uniform features:

  • 20–50 cm in length (ca. 10 cm long handle), 2–3 cm in width

  • in most cases, both blade and back are evenly straight; the blade tapers near the point

  • the wooden handle, sometimes with a bronze ferrule

Sheaths covered both blades and handles and were decorated sometimes. Sheaths show that Anglo-Saxon seaxes and Swedish scabbard knives were rarely used in Norway .

In 14 cases, knives were found in graves/mounds, eight times with a sword, seven times with an axehead, six times with a spearhead, sometimes with other tools. Graves belonged to women in at least two cases.

The function is difficult to guess. Merovingian type were probably deposited from symbolical reasons. Light long knives could serve as kitchen knives, hunting knives and weapons in case of need.

Dvůr Hákona Starého Hákonarsona

Tímto článkem bych chtěl prezentovat pozoruhodný článek své kamarádky Markéty Ivánkové, který se zabývá strukturou norského dvora za vlády Hákona Hákonarsona (1217–1263). Práce, která tématicky nesouvisí s dobou vikinskou, musí nutně zaujmout každého zájemce o skandinávský středověk. Autorka svým poutavým jazykem a zejména svými znalostmi otvírá kapitolu, která byla českému publiku dosud uzavřená.

Markéta Ivánková vystudovala skandinavistiku a germanistiku na FF UK. V současné době je doktorandkou tamtéž na Ústavu germánských studií a specializuje se na recepci rytířské epiky ve Skandinávii. Kromě toho se zajímá o runové památky severského středověku. Spolupracovala na překladu povídek Gyrðira Elíassona Mezi stromy (z islandštiny) a překládá i z moderní norštiny a staroseverštiny. V současné době se podílí na revidovaném vydání Staroislandských ság.

Práci si můžete prohlédnout či stáhnout prostřednictvím tohoto odkazu:
Markéta Ivánková – Dvůr Hákona Starého Hákonarsona

Amulet kladiva z Flekstadu

Převzato ze stránek Nord-Trøndelag fylkeskommune.

Norský detektorář Magne Øksnes se během letošních Velikonoc vydal na pozvání Nilse Flekstada na farmu Flekstad, která leží ve farnosti Kvam v kraji Nord-Trøndelag. A během následujícího hledání objevil stříbrný amulet Þórova kladiva.

Celkově jde o 14. amulet kladiva, který byl nalezen v Norsku, přičemž jenom polovina z nich je vyrobena ze stříbra. Jedinečnost nálezu názorně demonstruje prohlášení archeologa Larse Forsetha, který se kladivem zabýval a který na jeho adresu prohlásil: „To je poprvé, co dokumentuji nález Þórova kladiva.

Amulet je cca 34 mm dlouhý, cca 24 mm široký a váží 5,6 gramů. Jak již bylo zmíněno, je vyroben ze stříbra. Na přední straně můžeme nalézt kroužkovou ražbu. Má jít o jediný nález kladiva ze Nord-Trøndelagu, což není úplná pravda, protože ze stejného kraje pocházejí také kladiva z Verdalu, která zároveň tvoří nejbližší paralely kladiva z Flekstadu. Co se týče datace, Lars Forseth datuje amulet do období let 800–950. Kladiva z Flekstadu a Verdalu lze typologicky přiřadit ke Staeckerovu typu 2.1.1. Tento typ označuje kladiva, která jsou vyrobena ze stříbra, jsou zdobena raženou výzdobou a nacházejí se v depotech s tpq datací od poloviny 10. do začátku 11. století (Staecker 1999: 229).

Kladivo z Verdalu. Převzato z fotoportálu Unimus.

Amulet z Flekstadu rozšiřuje soubor norských kladiv a v budoucnu může být použit ke komparaci s dalšími případnými kusy. Svým vzhledem, který snoubí jednoduchost s elegancí, podává svědectví o dovednostech šperkařů v této oblasti. Amulet rovněž může vrhnout nové světlo na dvě kladívka z Verdalu.

Použitá literatura:
STAECKER, Jörn. Rex regum et dominus dominorum. Die wikingerzeitlichen Kreuz- und Kruzifixanhänger als Ausdruck der Mission in Altdänemark und Schweden, Stockholm 1999.

Stránky informující o nálezu:





Nález ze Skaunu

Meč. Foto: Åge Hojem, NTNU Vitenskapsmuseet.

Tímto článkem bych Vás chtěl seznámit s nálezem ze Skaunu, který se nachází v norském Sør-Trøndelagu. Dne 14. srpna 2014 se 34letý detektorář Magnus Meistad, který je členem Detektorářského klubu z Trondheimu (Trondheim Metallsøkerklubb), vydal do vsi jménem Buvika, ve které v mládí vyrůstal. Vytipoval si lokalitu na pozemcích farmáře Arnta Olstada, kde chtěl kolem nově registrované mohyly hledat mince. Na kopci Mannsfjellet, asi sto padesát metrů od svého dávného domova, objevil podivuhodný nález, který zakopal a zalarmoval místní archeology a příslušníky z Vědeckého muzea (Vitenskapsmuseet). Podle dostupných informací se nález skládá z meče, sekery, puklice štítu a hrotu šípu a byl uložen v plochém hrobu v hloubce okolo 30 cm. Žádný z dostupných zdrojů neinformuje o tom, že by byly nalezeny také kosti. K první medializaci nálezu došlo na přelomu září a října, podruhé se v médiích objevil na začátku února.

Podle zveřejněných informací je meč dlouhý kolem 90 cm s čepelí dlouhou asi 75 cm. Podle dostupných fotografií odhaduji, že se jedná o starší variantu typu X. Meč je pozoruhodný hned ze dvou důvodů. Za prvé je tak dobře zachován, že se na jeho povrchu zachovaly fragmenty pochvy ze dřeva a textilu. Za druhé rentgen prokázal, že se na čepeli nachází nápis +VLFBERH+T, a jedná se proto o kontinentální meč vysoké kvality, nebo jeho věrnou napodobeninu. Meč byl předběžně datován k roku 900.

Obsah puklice. Foto: Åge Hojem, NTNU Vitenskapsmuseet.

Značná pozornost se věnuje puklici, respektive jejímu obsahu. Uvnitř se totiž nacházel kožený váček s arabskými mincemi, devíti achátovými kuličkami (zřejmě také jednou kostěnou) a závažími. Puklice je mírně deformovaná nárazem meče nebo sekery.

Sekera in situ. Foto: Magnus Meistad.

Vzhledem k mediálnímu zájmu o meč a puklici nemůžeme říci nic konkrétního o sekeře ani hrotech šípů. Podle fotky sekery se nicméně zdá, že jde o typ F nebo I (oba se datují mezi roky 900–1000).

Jednotlivé zdroje datují hrob do rozmezí let 900–950 a naznačují, že vlastníkem předmětů mohl být zcestovalý muž.

Zdroje, fotografie a videa: