Meče Petersenova typu M

Jelikož řada vikinských mečů se vyznačuje dekorací, která kvalitní rekonstrukce značně prodražuje, byl jsem svými kolegy osloven, zda bych nemohl zveřejnit některé nezdobené kusy, které by bylo možné snadněji rekonstruovat. Moje volba padla na Petersenův typ M. Vzhledem k jednoduchosti má tento typ mezi skandinávskými meči četné zastoupení, a protože jde dnes o často přehlížený typ, rozhodně si zaslouží naši pozornost.

Popis

Typ M (též jako R. 489) označuje variantu meče, která tvoří stupeň mezi typem F a typem Q. Tento typ se vyznačuje jednoduchým jílcem, který připomíná tvar písmene I. Ostře řezaná záštita a hlavice jsou zpravidla rovné a stejně vysoké, ve výjimečných případech je záštita mírně zakřivená. Hlavice je tvořena prostou, záštitě podobnou příčkou (tzv. „horní záštita“), na které je roznýtován řap a která nikdy není rozšířena o korunu. Z čelní pohledové strany jsou záštita i hlavice obdélníkového tvaru. Boční strany jsou obvykle ploché, méně často zaoblené. Důležitým rysem typu M je nedekorovaný jílec. Čepele jsou obvykle dvoubřité (jednobřité varianty tvoří podle Petersena zhruba 15%) a prosté, ačkoli známe i několik málo norských a švédských čepelí, které byly vyrobeny metodou svářkového damašku (Androščuk 2014: 386–7; Petersen 1919: 118). Petersen poznamenává, že žádná norská čepel nenese nápis, což je podle našich informací stále aktuální. Na čepeli z finské Eury můžeme nalézt variantu nápisu ULFBERHT (Kazakevičius 1996: 39). Ač se jedná o meče s jednoduchým designem, jsou vyrobeny z kvalitních materiálů.

typM-framdalir
Meč z islandské lokality Framdalir. Androščuk 2014: 68, Fig. 23.

Meče typu M jsou obecně dlouhé do jednoho metru, obvykle kolem 80–90 cm. Nejdelší meč, který jsme byli schopni dohledat, měří 95 cm. Průměrná šířka skandinávských čepelí je kolem 5,5–6 cm, někdy dosahuje až k 6,5 cm. Celková váha u zjištěných, průměrně dlouhých kusů činí 1100–1200 gramů. Nejkratší kus, který se nám podařilo zjistit, váží 409 gramů a je dlouhý 47,7 cm, přičemž čepel je 38,5 cm dlouhá a 0,48 cm tlustá (Peirce 2002: 86). Tento meč, který měl být údajně nalezen v chlapeckém hrobu, se zdá být zmenšenou, avšak jinak plnohodnotnou verzí. Abychom nastínili anatomii tohoto zajímavé typu, vybrali jsme šest relativně dobře zachovalých exemplářů, které detailněji popíšeme.

C59045_Dovre
Dovre, Norsko (C59045). Skvěle zachovalý meč uložený v hrobu, nalezený roku 2013. Celková délka 89 cm. Délka čepele 77 cm. Šířka čepele 5,9 cm. Žlábek patrný od 12 cm od záštity po 6 cm od hrotu. Délka jílce 12 cm. Délka rukojeti 9,3 cm. Šířka rukojeti 3,4 cm. Délka, výška a tloušťka záštity 9,4 cm × 1,1 cm × 2,3 cm. Délka, výška a tloušťka hlavice 7 cm × 1,3 × 2,2–2,3 cm. Váha 1141,1 g. Foto: Vegard Vike, Kulturně historické muzeum v Oslu.

C58919_FlesbergÅsland, Norsko (C58919). Zachovalý meč uložený v hrobu, nalezený roku 2013. Celková délka 87 cm. Délka rukojeti 8,5 cm. Délka, výška a tloušťka záštity 11,6 cm × 1,2 cm × 2,6 cm. Délka, výška a tloušťka hlavice 8,1 cm × 1,2 cm × 2,7 cm. Foto: Elin Christine Storbekk, Kulturně historické muzeum v Oslu.

C24244_ArgehovdMogen, Norsko (C24244). Skvěle zachovalý meč uložený v hrobu, nalezený před rokem 1937. Celková délka 85 cm. Šířka čepele: 5,5 cm. Délka rukojeti 9,6 cm. Délka záštity 12,9 cm. Délka hlavice 8,3 cm. Foto: Peirce 2002: 86, Kulturně historické muzeum v Oslu.

C53462_TelemarkTelemark, Norsko (C53462). Částečně zkorodovaný meč, darovaný muzeu roku 2004. Celková délka 71 cm. Délka poškozené čepele 59,5 cm. Šířka čepele 5,8 cm. Délka rukojeti 9,7 cm. Délka a výška záštity 10,5 cm × 1 cm. Délka a výška hlavice 6,8 cm × 0,8 cm. Foto: Ellen C. Holte, Kulturně historické muzeum v Oslu.

parisNeznámá francouzská lokalita, zřejmě říční nález (Musée de l’Armée, Paris; J3). Skvěle zachovalý meč, nalezený před rokem 1890. Celková délka 90 cm. Délka čepele 75 cm. Šířka čepele 5,3 cm. Délka záštity: 10 cm. Délka rukojeti 12 cm. Foto: Peirce 2002: 86, Musée de l’Armée negativ K23710.

T19391-rorosRøros, Norsko (T19391). Dobře zachovalý meč, nalezený roku 1973. Celková délka 90 cm. Délka čepele 78 cm. Šířka čepele 5,5 cm. Délka, výška a tloušťka záštity 12,2 cm × 1,3 cm × 2,3 cm. Délka, výška a tloušťka hlavice 8,1 cm × 1,3 cm × 2,1 cm. Foto: Ole Bjørn Pedersen, Kulturně historické muzeum v Oslu.

Pozornost můžeme věnovat také organickým pozůstatkům nalezeným na mečích typu M. Obecně vzato lze říci, že řada mečů vykazuje jasné stopy dřevěného obložení rukojeti a dřevěné pochvy. Uveďme si několik konkrétních příkladů. Meč z hrobu č. 511 v anglickém Reptonu byl uložen v dřevěné pochvě, která byla vystlána ovčím rounem a potažena kůží (Biddle – Kjølbye-Biddle 1992: 49). Pochva byla opatřena závěsným systémem, ze kterého se zachovala pouze odlévaná přezka. Rukojeť byla vyrobena z měkkého dřeva, které bylo ovinuto pruhem textilu. Meč z islandského Öndverðarnesu (Kt 47) měl dřevěnou rukojeť omotanou tenkým, splétaným provázkem, a dřevěnou pochvu potaženou textilií (Eldjárn 2000: 326). U hrotu byly nalezeny pozůstatky koženého potahu pochvy, zatímco 3 cm pod záštitou se nacházely pozůstatky po průvleku mečového pásu. V dalším islandském hrobu, tentokrát z lokality Sílastaðir (Kt 98), byl uložen meč s jílcem obloženým dřevěnými střenkami, které byly zasunuté pod záštitu a které byly u hlavice omotané provázkem (Eldjárn 2000: 326). Pochva tohoto meče je dřevěná, zevnitř vystlaná textilem, navrchu lnem a kůží. Na několika místech jsou stále patrné profilované omoty okolo pochvy. 12 cm pod záštitou se nacházel kovový pásek, který nejspíše sloužil k uchycení mečového pásu. Pochva byla u hrotu opatřena koženým nákončím.

Organické komponenty se poměrně četně objevují rovněž u norských mečů typu M. Jeden z mečů z Kaupangu měl dřevěnou rukojeť obtočenou provázkem či řemínkem a dřevěnou pochvu potaženou kůží (Blindheim – Heyerdahl-Larsen 1995: 61). Fragmenty dřevěných rukojetí a pochev současně byly nalezeny u mečů z Brekke (B10670), Hogstadu (C52343), Kolstadu (T12963), Størenu (Androščuk 2014: 76, Pl. 111) a Åslandu (C58919). U meče z Nedre Øksnavadu (S12274) byla nalezena dřevěná rukojeť a pochva potažená textilem. Meč z Eikrem (T12199), který zřejmě přináleží k typu M, měl smrkovou pochvu s díly přichycenými svorkami, která byla potažená kůží a textilem. Meč ze Soggebakke (T16395) byl opatřen dřevěnou pochvou. Na mečích z Hallem søndre (T13555), Havsteinu (T15297) a Holtanu (T16280) byly nalezeny fragmenty dřevěných rukojetí. Toto je pouze omezený výčet, který bylo možné nalézt během krátkého pátrání, přesto jde o nesmírně cenný materiál, díky kterému si můžeme udělat dobrou představu, jak vypadal typický meč typu M.

typM-ondverdarnestypM-kaupang

Meče z islandského Öndverðarnesu a norského Kaupangu.
Blindheim – Heyerdahl-Larsen 1995: Pl. 48; Eldjárn 2000: 326, 161. mynd.

Distribuce a datace

Pokud jde o rozšíření, zdá se, meče typu M jsou z velké části norskou doménou. Roku 1919 Petersen uvedl, že v celém Norsku známe nejméně 198 mečů typu M, z nichž nejméně 30 mělo jednobřitou čepel (Petersen 1919: 117–121). Za posledních 100 let však bylo objeveno nepřeberné množství nových nálezů, které každým rokem přibývají – kupříkladu ve Vestfoldu, který Petersen vůbec neuvádí, nyní již evidujeme 42 nálezů (Blindheim et al. 1999: 81). Nejvyšší koncentraci mečů typu M nalezneme ve východním Norsku a Sognsku, kde podle Pera Hernæse (1985) známe nejméně 375 mečů. Mikael Jakobsson (1992: 210) v Norsku eviduje 409 mečů. Současný počet bude zcela jistě ještě vyšší. Zřejmě nebudeme daleko od pravdy, pokud řekneme, že typ M je spolu s typem H/I jedním z nejrozšířenějších typů norských mečů. V okolních zemích známé mečů nepoměrně méně. Ve Švédsku je v současné době známo 10 exemplářů (Androščuk 2014: 69), na Islandu nejméně 4 (Eldjárn 2000: 330), ve Velké Británii známe nejméně 4 kusy (Biddle – Kjølbye-Biddle 1992: 49; Bjørn – Shetelig 1940: 18, 26), 4 ve Francii (Jakobsson 1992: 211), 2 v Dánsku (Pedersen 2014: 80), 3 ve Finsku, 1 v Irsku a 1 v Německu (Jakobsson 1992: 211; Kazakevičius 1996: 39). Vytautas Kazakevičius (1996: 39) udává nejméně 9 mečů typu M z baltských zemí, nejméně dva meče z Polska a dva z České republiky. Podle Jiřího Košty z České republiky neznáme jediný nález meče typu M a jedná se o běžný mýtus hojně citovaný v literatuře (osobní diskuze s Jiřím Koštou). Baltské meče jsou specifické – jsou kratší a mají jednobřitou užší čepel, a proto jsou interpretovány jako místní produkty. Lze tedy říci, že evidujeme něco přes 440 kusů, i když reálně již bude mnohem více.

Co se datování týče, Petersen soudí, že se první meče tohoto typu v Norsku objevují někdy v polovině 9. století a přetrvávají do začátku 10. století (Petersen 1919: 121). Nové nálezy z východního Norska, zejména z Kaupangu, ukázaly, že do hrobů byly ukládány v 1. polovině 10. století (Blindheim et al. 1999: 81). Dva švédské kusy, které lze datovat, pocházejí z 10. století (Androščuk 2014: 69), což platí i pro islandské meče (Eldjárn 2000: 330). Polské kusy lze datovat do 9. století (Kazakevičius 1996: 39). Meče typu M se tak objevují v širokém geografickém i chronologickém horizontu, a můžeme spekulovat o tom, zda podobnost není spíše náhodně způsobena jednoduchým designem.

typM
Rozšíření typu M ve východním Norsku a Songsku.
Podle Hernæse 1985; převzato z Blindheim et al. 1999: 81, Fig. 9.

Interpretace

Obecně vzato je meč jasně čitelným symbolem elitního postavení a moci. Je evidentní, že se staří Seveřané, stejně jako jiní lidé kdekoli na světě, porovnávali navzájem, např. dovednostmi a majetkem. Nezřídka se porovnávání zvrhlo v poměrně ostré dialogy, ve kterých se muži předháněli ve svých kvalitách (tzv. mannjafnaðr). Meče při tomto jistě napomáhaly jako prostředky demonstrace bohatství a přináležitosti k „vyšší společnosti“. Při dobrém pohledu nám klíčovou odpověď může dát Norsko, které bylo v 9. a 10. století multipolární a snahy rodů o centralizaci daly vzniknout společnosti, jež cítila silnou potřebu vyjádřit svou nezávislost či důležitost skrze kopírování elitního modelu – tedy vlastnictví mečů a jejich následné uložení do hrobů. Toto vedlo k tomu, že v Norsku nacházíme neskutečně obrovské množství mečů, které nemá obdoby. Společenské pnutí do určité míry zasáhlo všechny, ale jen někteří si mohli dovolit investovat nemalé jmění do exkluzivní zbraně. „Jednodušší“, avšak plnohodnotné meče typu M můžeme vnímat jako levnější alternativy, které svobodným, lépe situovaným sedlákůma jejich rodinám dávaly možnost vyzvednout svou identitu v době, kdy neexistovala jasně vymezená společenská hierarchie. To vysvětluje jejich vzhled i četnost, a to jak v mužských, tak i v ženských hrobech (Kjølen, C22541).

„Jílec meče tvoří jednoduché železné komponenty. Je to pragmatický meč, zřejmě nošený s pýchou, ale nikoli nejvyšší vrstvou společnosti. Tyto jednoduché a skromné meče se zdají být normou v hrobech z horských oblastí. Pravděpodobně byly vyrobeny nebo přinejmenším opatřeny jílcem v Norsku.“

Vegard Vike (2017)

Meče typu M se jeví jako užitkové zbraně, které však vlastníkům mohly sloužit k reprezentaci. Dva raritní norské meče – meč ze Strande (T1951) a meč z Lesji (C60900) – naznačují, že byly předávány nejméně 50 let a průběhu času byly aktualizovány, aby splňovaly nároky na módu, což lze vysledovat i u dalších vikinských mečů (Fedrigo et al. 2017: 425). Meč ze Strande má hlavici typu E, která byla dodatečně doplněna na řap s typologicky mladší záštitou typu M (Petersen 1919: 78, Fig. 66). Meč z Lesji tvoří čepel s řapem, na který byla namontována záštita z typologicky staršího meče typu C a hlavice typu M (Vike 2017). Nutno také dodat, že meč z Lesji byl objeven na ledovci, kde před více než 1000 lety nejspíše sloužil lovci sobů.

Lesja, Norsko (C60900). Skvěle zachovalý meč nalezený roku 2017 v ledovci. Záštita typu C, hlavice typu M. Celková délka 92,8 cm. Délka čepele 79,4 cm. Šířka čepele 6,2 cm. Tloušťka čepele 0,45 cm. Délka jílce 13,4 cm. Délka rukojeti 10,1 cm. Délka a výška záštity 7,5 cm × 1,7 cm. Váha 1203 g. Foto: Vegard Vike, Kulturně historické muzeum v Oslu.

Bibliografie

Androščuk, Fedir (2014). Viking Swords : Swords and Social aspects of Weaponry in Viking Age Societies, Stockholm.

Biddle, Martin – Kjølbye-Biddle, Birthe (1992). Repton and the Vikings. In: Antiquity, Vol. 66, s. 38–51.

Bjørn, Anathon – Shetelig, Haakon (1940). Viking Antiquities in Great Britain and Ireland, Part 4 : Viking Antiquities in England, Bergen.

Blindheim, Charlotte – Heyerdahl-Larsen, Birgit (1995). Kaupang-funnene, Bind II. Gravplassene i Bikjholbergene/Lamøya. Undersøkelsene 1950–1957. Del A. Gravskikk, Oslo.

Blindheim, Ch. – Heyerdahl-Larsen, B. – Ingstad, Anne S. (1999). Kaupang-funnene. Bind II. Gravplassene i Bikjholbergene/Lamøya: Undersøkelsene 1950–57. Del B. Oldsaksformer. Del C. Tekstilene, Oslo.

Fedrigo, Anna et al. (2017). Extraction of archaeological information from metallic artefacts—A neutron diffraction study on Viking swords. In: Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports, 12, s. 425–436.

Hernæs, Per (1985). De østnorske sverdfunn fra yngre jernalder : en geografisk analyse. Magistergradsavhandling i nordisk arkeologi – Universitetet i Oslo, Oslo.

Jakobsson, Mikael (1992). Krigarideologi och vikingatida svärdstypologi, Stockholm : Stockholms Universitet.

Kazakevičius, Vytautas (1996). IX–XIII a. baltų kalavijai, Vilnius.

Pedersen, Anne (2014). Dead Warriors in Living Memory. A study of weapon and equestrian burials in Viking-age Denmark, AD 800-1000, Publications from the National Museum. Studies in Archaeology & History Vol. 20:1 1. (Text), Copenhagen.

Peirce, I. G. (2002). Catalogue of Examples. In: Oakeshott E. – Peirce, I. G. (eds). Swords of the Viking Age, Woodbridge: 25–144.

Petersen, Jan (1919). De Norske Vikingesverd: En Typologisk-Kronologisk Studie Over Vikingetidens Vaaben. Kristiania.

Vike, Vegard (2017). A Viking sword from Lesja. UiO Museum of Cultural History, Oslo.
https://www.khm.uio.no/english/research/collections/objects/15/sword_lesja.html

Zdobené miniatury štítů z Birky

Drahý čtenáři,

po krátké předvánoční odmlce se opět hlásíme s plodem spolupráce skupin Herjan a Marobud. Tentokrát jde o slovenský překlad studie Wladyslawa Duczka o štítových miniaturách z Birky. Práci jsme doplnili o aktuální informace a některé další zajímavé nálezy a paralely.

kruhové přívěšky

Některé varianty kruhových přívěsků z Birky. Arbman 1940: Taf. 97, 99.

Kruhové prívesky zo strieborného plechu s razenými vzormi” je práce, která se snaží ukázat na dosud příliš neobjevenou kapitolu rekonstrukce doby vikinské. Práci tímto věnujeme jako vánoční dárek všem milovníkům historie, reenactorům a čtenářům, kteří nás sledují po celou dobu naší existence. Přejeme Vám ničím nerušené strávení svátků a úspěšný rok plný zajímavých zjištění a zkušeností.

Studii si můžete stáhnout prostřednictvím tohoto odkazu:

Interní soutěž skupiny Herjan

Slovenská skupina Herjan, jejíž jsem čestným členem, v minulých dnech přišla se zajímavou soutěží – a sice každý přihlášený obdrží pět stránek katalogu švédského Historického muzea (mis.historiska.se), ze kterých si může vybrat pět nálezů a ty okomentovat.

SHM 5208:1999

SHM 5208:1999. Jantarová miniatura sekerky, nalezená v “Černé zemi” v Birce.

Soutěž je jednoduchý mechanismus s přidanou hodnotou, který přiměje jednotlivé členy ke studiu nálezů. Jednotlivci se při této činnosti mohou přiučit kritickému myšlení a psaní, mohou se mezi sebou porovnávat, a všechny soutěžní příspěvky nadto obohatí celý kolektiv. Nálezy vybrané do této soutěže pocházejí výhradně ze sídlištního kontextu Birky, a jsou tedy jen málo – pokud vůbec – publikované tiskem. Krátký komentář může pomoci zařadit předměty do kontextu jak daného města, tak celé Skandinávie, což mohou – v případě publikování internetovým médiem – ocenit i další zájemci mimo skupinu. Z tohoto důvodu jsem se rozhodl zveřejnit svůj příspěvek, kterýžto tímto předkládám k posouzení komunity.

Gokstad belt recreations

gokstad1


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).

gokstad3

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.

gokstad3

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

gokstad3

Reconstruction of the bridle from Gokstad.

 

gokstad3

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!

BIBLIOGRAPHY
  • 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.

Kostýmové pasy

Po úspěšné sérii takzvaných inspiromatů, která byla vzpruhou českého reenactmentu, se vracíme s novou výzvou – kostýmovým pasem. Tento pas si lze představit jako krátký dokument, ve kterém reenactor popisuje zdroje, které použil při tvorbě každé části svého kostýmu, společně se svým přístupem a obrázky svého kostýmu.

Takovýto dokument je užitečný jak pro samotného reenactora, tak i pro ostatní – reenactor si jednoduše může sjednotit svůj kostým, může se poučit ze svých chyb, inspiruje a může dostat zpětnou vazbu od komunity. Je také nutné podotknout, že v některých zemích jsou kostýmové pasy standardem, a v případě účasti na některých akcích je kostýmový pas nutností.

Pokud chcete svůj pas zveřejnit a stát se inspirací pro ostatní, pošlete dokument, prosím, na email ceskyreenactment@gmail.com.


Monika Baráková
A 9th century woman from Bj 515, Birka
artis

 


Artis Āboltiņš
Mid-11th century Lathgallian
artis

 


Samuel Grolich
Bohatý muž z Birky, 10. stoletísamo1

 


Marianne Tóvinnukona
A Greenlandic woman, 1000–1500 AD
marianne

 


Данилов Е.В.
Варяжский наёмник в Византии, XI век
marianne

 


Skupina Marobud
Inspiromat, Norsko, 10. století
marobud_inspirace

 

Náramky a prsteny z Birky

Prsten z hrobu Bj 791, přetvořený na přívěšek.

Je mi potěšením zveřejnit tímto způsobem překlad mého přítele Samuela Grolicha ze slovenské skupiny Herjan. Dokument se týká náramků a prstenů nalezených ve švédském obchodním středisku Birce, a to včetně popisů jednotlivých typů předmětů a dalšího detailního komentáře. Samuelova část popisuje šperky nalezené v hrobech, kterou jsem doplnil o popis náramků a prstenů z tzv. Černé země. Dokument si můžete otevřít či stáhnout pomocí následujícího tlačítka.

Doufáme, že se Vám bude líbit!

The helmet from Tjele

The fragment of the helmet from Tjele. Author: Arnold Mikkelsen, Nationalmuseet. Taken from the catalogue of National Museum of Denmark.

In 1850, an extraordinary find was discovered by a young farmer in the forest called Lindum Storskov, near Tjele, Denmark. The find consisted of a set of blacksmith equipment – two anvils, five hammers, three tongs, sheet metal shears, two files, a wedge, two nail headers, casting bowls (with traces of tin and lead), a small touchstone, a set of scales, nine weights, five sickles, a key, three iron nails, an axe, two jingles, a spearhead/arrowhead, bronze wires, a lid of a box for scales, bone and bronze fragments of a casket, a mount of a drinking horn, iron fragments and pieces of a helmet (Leth-Larsen 1984; Lund 2006: 325). Thanks to local authorities, the set was sent to Copenhagen, where it was analyzed. The find was published three times – in 1858 (Boye 1858), then in 1939 (Ohlhaver 1939) and finally in 1984 (Munksgaard 1984; Leth-Larsen 1984).

tjele

Some other objects from the find from Tjele. Taken from Boye 1858: Pl. II–IV.

The helmet fragment is a very interesting object, that was originally interpreted as a saddle mount. It was Elisabeth Munksgaard, who expressed the theory about the helmet. Still, it is rather an overlooked artefact that was never studied in detail nor scientifically reconstructed. That’s the reason why this article was written.

Munksgaard sums up several important details:

This winged-shaped object is not a saddle mounting, but the eyebrows and nose-gueard of a helmet, made of iron and bronze. […] We are, unfortunately, not able to judge what the Tjele helmet looked like. There is not a trace of chain mail rest of the helmet, nor any iron plates fit for making up the rest of the helmet. But there are eight fragments of thin iron strips, about 1 cm broad and of varying length which might have been used for joining the plates together.” (Munksgaard 1984: 87)

More than detailed description, her article includes the comparison with the helmet from Gjermundbu. Since she considers the helmet from Gjermundbu to be the closest analogy, it is obvious she interprets the fragment as a part of a spectacle low-domed helmet. This type of helmets was used until 1000 AD (Munksgaard 1984: 88). The dating of the find from Tjele was corrected by Lund (2006: 325, 339), who claims the set belongs to the period between 950–970 AD. Tweedle (1992: 1126) assumed that the mask was multi-pieced; two ocular pieces were riveted to the nasal. The hole in the broader piece of the nasal could support this theory. Moreover, the mask from Kyiv shows the same feature.

The size of the mask is not convincingly given, but both Munksgaard and Tweedle suggest it is 12 × 7 cm (Munksgaard 1984: 87, fig. 4; Tweedle 1992: 1128, fig. 561). Just in the middle of eyebrows, at the base of the nasal, a hole for a rivet is placed. At least one decorated bronze strip was mounted on the eyebrows. It seems that entire eyebrows were symmetrically covered by bronze strips like this one. As a result, the mask was a distictive feature of the helmet, as can be observed in cases of other helmets too (Gjermundbu, Lokrume, Kyiv or St. Wenceslas helmet).

Regarding the construction, we can not say much. Munksgaard gives the information about eight fragments of narrow bands, which makes it possible to imagine that the helmet could have the similar construction as the helmet from Gjermundbu. The dome of the helmet of Gjermundbu is formed by four triangular-shaped plates. Under the gap between each two plates, there is a narrow flat band, which is riveted to a somewhat curved band located above the gap between each two plates. In the nape-forehead direction, the flat band is formed by a single piece, that is extended in the middle (on the top of the helmet) and forms the base for the spike. There are two flat bands in the lateral direction. Triangular-shaped plates are riveted to each corner of the extended part of the nape-forehead band. A broad band, with visible profiled line, is riveted to the rim of the dome. Two rings were connected to the very rim of the broad band, probably remnants of the aventail. In the front, the decorated mask is riveted onto the broad band.

The scheme of the helmet. Made by Tomáš Vlasatý and Tomáš Cajthaml.

The scheme of the helmet of Gjermundbu. Made by Tomáš Vlasatý and Tomáš Cajthaml.

Even though the mask from Tjele is just a fragment, we can not underestimate the meaning of this find. It broadens our vision about Viking Age protective gear, its decoration and the makers. Recently, two of my friends have tried to replicate the helmet fragment from Tjele. The reconstruction of the complete helmet is impossible, but I personally think that these both versions are decent and plausible tries that should be accepted by reenactment community.

First, let’s have a look on the work of Dmitry Hramtsov. The dome of this version is based on Vendel Period helmets. Since multi-pieced masks are typical for pre-Viking helmets, such a dome seems to be understandable. Metal bands are, however, much wider than those found in Tjele. The eyebrows are decorated with 14 bronze strips.

 

The second try is the helmet made by Konstantin Shiryaev and Maxim Teryoshin. In this case, the dome is based on the helmet from Gjermundbu. Konstantin used 16 bronze strips.


Bibliography:

Boye, V. (1858). To fund af smedeværktøi fra den sidste hedenske tid i Danmark (Thiele-Fundet og Snoldelev-Fundet). In: Annaler for Nordisk Oldkyndighed og Historie, København: 191–200.

Leth-Larsen, B. (1984). Selected objects from the stock of the Tjele smith. In: Offa 41, Neumünster: 91–96.

Lund, J. (2006). Vikingetidens værktøjskister i landskab og mytologi (Viking Period tool chests in the landscape and in mythology). In: Fornvännen 101, Stockholm: 323–341.

Munksgaard, E. (1984). A Viking Age smith, his tools and his stock-in-trade. In: Offa 41, Neumünster: 85–89.

Ohlhaver, H. (1939). Der germanische Schmied und sein Werkzeug. Hamburger Schriften zur Vorgeschichte und Germanischen Frühgeschichte, Band 2, Leipzig.

Tweddle, D. (1992). The Anglian Helmet from 16-22 Coppergate, The Archaeology of York. The Small Finds AY 17/8, York.

“The man from Voll”

volls

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!

Viking Age crampons

For my entire reenactment career, I have encountered the problem of slippery shoe soles. Some reenactors solve the problem with rubber soles or metal hobnails, but these are not period solutions. Leather soles are extremely slippery on the wet or frozen surfaces, especially when they are a bit used and scuffed, which means the problem has to be solved in a way.

In Sagas of Icelanders and some other sagas, two terms skóbroddr (“shoe spike”; Eyrbyggja saga, Sturlunga sagaSverris saga) and mannbroddr (literally “man’s spike”; Þorsteins saga hvíta, Vápnfirðinga saga) occur and they represent spikes that are used when saga heroes travel over the ice or as a cheating device mounted to horse forehead during horse fights. Spikes were not permanently attached to shoes; one could put them on and take them off as needed.

Crampons designed for horse hooves. Taken from Rybakov 1985: 362, Tab. 148, 26-29.

Crampons from sagas have many counterparts in the archaeological material in the whole of Scandinavia and beyond. The term mannbroddr suggests there were also crampons designed for horse hooves (see here). In some cases, it is difficult to determine which crampons were designed for men and which for horses. In this article, we will focus mainly on crampons that were meant to be attached to shoes. We will look at finds from Birka and Haithabu and some other analogies. Their function is to help to get stability on slippery surfaces, mainly ice. Etnographical mentions even attest the usage of crampons by whalers on the ocean, where whales were butchered (Goubitz 2007: 305). It is important to add that some of the graves with crampons from Birka were interpreted as winter graves; crampons and skates could play a symbolic role in this case (Gräslund 1980: 7576). Fox example, during the exhibition We call them Vikings, The Swedish History Museum in Stockholm described crampons with these words: “The road to Hel is icy and leads north and downwards. Ice spikes ensured a safe arrival.

Here are links to downloadable documents I prepared for you:
Swedish crampons (including Birka type 1, 2 and 3)
Crampons from Haithabu

Generally speaking, crampons of the Viking Age had no more than four spikes. Spikes are positioned in the way to maximize the friction of the shoe. Crampons can be divided into four basic categories:

  • Type A, “1-point crampons”. These were made of separate bent bands with only one spike. Bent bands, with no more than three pieces at the same time, were attached to leather or wooden bases. The length of these bases corresponded with the width of the shoes and were connected by straps to the shoe. Birka types 1 and 2 belong to this type (Arwidsson 1986: 111; however, Birka type 2 crampons could be horse crampons; discussion with Sergey Kainov). This type occurs also in Norway (Petersen 1951: 62–63), Latvia, Slovakia (my personal observations) and on territories of the Old Rus (Kainov–Spasov 2005),

    typA

    The method of attachment according to Kainov–Spasov 2005.

  • Type B, “3-point crampons”. Crampons of this type are in forms that are roughly trianglar – crampons in the shape of an equilateral triangle with open inner space (Birka type 3), Y-shaped crampons (Haithabu types 1 and 2), T-shaped crampons (Haithabu type 3) and V-shaped crampons (Swedish type 5). Crampons in the shape of an equilateral triangle with open inner space have been found in Norway, Sweden, Iceland, Poland, Latvia and Old Russia (Petersen 1951: 62–63; Arwidsson 1986: 111; Kirpičnikov 1973: 170; Kainov–Spasov 2005; Petrov 2006: 174; Wojtasik 1998: 372, Ryc. 10.27,5). Y-shaped crampons were found not only in Haithabu, but also in Schleswig (Saggau 2000: 99100), in territories of West Slavic tribes and in Lund (Westphalen 2002: 271), in medieval Söderköping (SHM 34183:23), in medieval Riga (Petrov 2005) and Novgorod (Petrov 2006: 173–174); the same pieces were found in the tool chest from Mästermyr, Gotland (Arwidsson–Berg 1999: 16, No. 92–93). Three T-shaped crampons were found in Haithabu (Westphalen 2002: 271). V-shaped crampons were only found in the grave Valsgärde 7, which dates to the 7th century (Arwidsson 1977: 91, No. 1097; Arwidsson 1986: 112). No sure method of attachment is known, but we are aware of several high medieval or early modern methods from Oslo, Tønsberg, Trondheim, Leiden, Riga and Novgorod:
medieval_norway

At least eighteen leather stripes designed for crampons, sometimes with shoe soles or with imprinted triangular crampons, were found in medieval and early modern layers of Oslo and Tønsberg in Norway. Examples taken from Johansen – Molaug 2008: 197, Figs. 209–210, Johansen 2008: 127, Fig. 141 and the catalogue of Unimus.

tonsberg

The leather stripe from medieval Tønsberg. The crampon was fixed in the stripe and then covered with round leather piece, which held the crampon in the stable position. Taken from Brendalsmo – Lindh 1982: 27. For more medieval leather stripes designed for crampons, see Ulriksen 1992.

oslo_crampon

A leather piece with imprinted crampon, found in Gamlebyen, Oslo. Very similar solution as in the previous picture. Dated to the first half of the 14th century. Taken from Færden et al 1990: 263, Fig. 30g, 264.

A very well preserved high medieval crampon from Söderköping, Sweden (SHM 34183:23). Note that holes around the crampon, which are similar to those from Oslo and Tønsberg. Taken from the catalogue of SHM.

trondheim_crampon

Medieval leather stripe and triangular crampon from Trondheim. Taken from Goubitz 2007: 311, Fig. 23b.

leiden_crampon

Late medieval leather stripe with an imprint of triangular crampon, found in Leiden. Taken from Goubitz 2007: 311, Fig. 23a.

typB2

The method used in 13th–14th century in Riga, Latvia. Taken from Petrov 2005.

typB5

The method used in 13th–14th century in Novgorod, Russia. The area around the crampon is covered with another layer of leather. Taken from Petrov 2006: 172, 176, Fig. 1, 4.

typB3

The method suggested by Kainov–Spasov 2005.

typB1

The method suggested by Saggau 2000: Abb. 67:4. The crampon is placed in folded leather stripe. Note that the leather strap is placed on a modern shoe.

typB4

This method is etnografically attested from Finland. The crampon is placed in folded leather stripe and fixed by stitching. Taken from Schietzel 2014: 214.

finnish_crampons

Etnographical methods attested in Finland. Taken from Sirelius 1934: 116, Taf. 55, Abb. 244a-c.

77

The realization of the method suggested by Spasov-Kainov 2005, group NorraVind.

veronica_replica2

The attachment method used by Veronica Wik.

veronica_replica

The attachment method from Tønsberg replicated by Veronica Wic.

kosciusko_crampon

The attachment method used by Amy Pooley when climbing Mr Kosciusko. Credits go to Joshua Button.

  • Type C, “4-point crampons”. Three X-shaped crampons were found in Haithabu (Haithabu type 4Westphalen 2002: 271). In Viking Age and medieval Norway, X-shaped crampon with open inner space were used as well (see C13709C35607C37183 or T2316). Similarly, there is a X-shaped crampon with open inner space and metal holders found in medieval Hovgården, Sweden (SHM 15825:149). The attachment method is not known from the Viking Age and it could be similar to what we have shown in the case of type B.

The crampon from medieval Hovgården (SHM 15825:149). Taken from the catalogue of SHM.

20160921_142230

The attachment method used by Karel Sýkora, Marobud.

  • Other types, “atypical crampons”. We have to mention crampons of the Swedish type 4, that were found in graves Tuna Alsike X and Bengtsarvet 2. They were made of an iron bands, whose length corresponded to the width of the shoe. They had bent ends with loops for attachment and three spikes on the bottom side. Analogical methods with two spikes were found in late medieval or early modern sites from Germany (Heiligenberg, Tannenberg, Dossenheim, Gaisberg; Gross 2012: 448–9) and Russia (Staraya Ladoga). Besides the find from Staraya Ladoga, Kirpichnikov (1973) shows yet another interesting form medieval.
heiligenberg_crampon

2-point iron band crampon with loops for attachment. Taken from Gross 2012: 544, Taf. 60.11.

typX

Crampons found in Staraya Ladoga (Number. 3; 17th century) and Kniazha Hora (Number. 4, 1150–1240 AD). Taken from Kirpichnikov 1973: 170, Fig. 47.

Viking Age crampons could seem as old-fashioned or primitive pieces of metal. However, in Europe, simple crampons like all those aforementioned were used until the 20th century. Their simple and effective construction uses only a limited number of variants. Therefore, we can see very similar pieces in space and time.

modern_crampons

Crampons from the 19th and 20th century with similar designs.

 

Firsthand experience

My first chance to use crampons took place in 2015, during the festival of Libušín, in the Czech Republic. I chose crampons of type B (Haithabu type 2, Y-shaped). I am very indebted to Jiří “Link” Novák, who gave them to me as a gift. The attachment method was copied from Danish reenactors, since I had not the sources I have now. This was my first try and I would like to inform you about all pros and cons of this piece of gear.

The most important discovery of this experience was that crampons make shoes a very useful thing. When a crampon is used with leather soled shoes, the result is comparable with rubber sole or hobnails. I have not had a chance to use crampons on an icy surface, but they worked perfectly on the wet or dry grass and were very useful during climbing a hill. I used crampons with thick felt insoles, but I think that woolen insoles and crampons fixed with the second layer of leather can lead to the same comfortable feeling. When the user is careful and slow, crampons can be even used on hard surfaces for short distances (all you feel is the pressure). In battle, crampons are also useful for stability, but rather dangerous and therefore not recommended. I personally think they were used mainly in winter, while they had no benefit in summer. They should be used mainly during winter events (for example hikes), whereas to a limited extent during summer events.

The first try showed that a crampon should be fixed into two layers of leather, because the crampon has a tendency to move and to tear the leather.For the same reason, it is necessary to place the crampon the middle of the leather band, not near the edge. The stitching can be very useful. It is always better have two fixed points on the shoe; my attachment method took advantage of leather straps, which hold the leather band in place. Below, you can have a look at photos of my experience.

I hope you liked 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 my project on Patreon.


Used bibliography:

Arwidsson 1977 = Arwidsson, Greta (1977). Valsgärde 7, Lund.

Arwidsson 1986 = Arwidsson, Greta (1986). Die Eissporen. In: ARWIDSSON, Greta (ed.) Birka II: 2. Systematische Analysen der Gräberfunde, Stockholm: 111–112.

Arwidsson–Berg 1999 = Arwidsson, Greta – Berg, Gösta (1999). The Mästermyr find : a Viking age tool chest from Gotland, Lompoc.

Brendalsmo – Lindh 1982 = Brendalsmo, Jan – Lindh, Jan (1982). Funn fra en utgravning, Øvre Ervik.

Færden et al 1990 = Færden, G., Schia, E., Molaug, P. B. (1990). De Arkeologiske utgravninger i Gamlebyen, Oslo. 7-8, Dagliglivets gjenstander, Øvre Ervik.

Goubitz 2007 = Goubitz, Olaf (2007). Stepping through time : archaeological footwear from prehistoric times until 1800, Zwolle.

Gräslund 1980 = Gräslund, Anne-Sofie (1980). Birka IV. The Burial Customs. A study of the graves on Björkö, Stockholm.

Gross 2012 = Gross, Uwe (2012). Die mittelalterlichen und neuzeitlichen Keramik-, Metall und Beinfunde. In: Gross, Uwe et al. Forschungen zum Heiligenberg bei Heidelberg : Forschungsgeschichte, Fundmaterial, Restaurierung (Forschungen und Berichte der Archäologie des Mittelalters in Baden-Württemberg, Bd. 32), Stuttgart: 393563. Online: http://archiv.ub.uni-heidelberg.de/artdok/2176/1/Gross_Die_mittelalterlichen_und_neuzeitlichen_Keramik_Metall_und_Beinfunde_2012.pdf

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Theories on Norse Padded Armour

Translated by Greg Rice from the Czech original.

At the request of many reenactors, who are interested in early medieval warfare, my colleagues Roman Král, Jan Zajíc, Jan Bělina, et al. and I decided to write an article that would provide a comprehensive commentary on the use of padding under armor and fabric armor in the early Middle Ages. Given that there is no extant archaeological evidence, we are forced to speculate and discuss dubious literary references, iconography and tested, firsthand experience. In this article, we will formulate a list of design assumptions.

1. The need for padding under mail armor

A scene from the Bayeux Tapestry.             Around 1070’s AD

Mail armor is constructed of connected rings of metal. It is logical that the mail armor and possibly other types of armor were used in combination with padding. Mail, which was the most widely used metal armor in Scandinavia, provides good protection against edged weapons and effectively disappaites the force of a blow. If it was worn without padding, a strike to the body would cause surface and internal damage. For the Viking Age (and indeed throughout the early Middle Ages) padding is never directly mentioned as part of combat equipment (mentioned as gerðar, herváðir and herklæði). The same applies to the surviving Scandinavian figures (see eg. Archer 2013) – armor lying close to the body and the undercoat is not noticeable. Padding as the bottom layer can easily be overlooked, but more significantly – when the armor was depicted, padding was not important for either the artist or the viewer of the piece of art; even though padding is as important as the other parts of armor. However, there are illuminations of contemporary European armor, in which the padding is shown (see eg. Skodell 2008), and we will try to show the parallels in contemporary padding across Western and Northern Europe.

 

2. The material of the padding

The best protection against the strike is layered textiles and/or leather. In the European reenactment the current trend is to produce fabric gambesons that are a few centimeters thick, but scientific investigation (see list at Archer 2014) suggests that two textile layers of fabric or a combination of fabric and leather were used. Iconography, showing the armor close to the body, could support that idea. We validated the use of few layers of wool (up to three) in modern (Eastern style) battles; the warrior is not restricted in movement and is fairly well protected against swords. Axe and spear, however, are problematic due to the force they generate. Similarly, we validated a thinner layer of felted wool.

Sagas and other sources, including The Book of the Hird (Hirðskrá) and The King’s Mirror (Konungs skuggsjá), mention textile armor treyja and panzer / panzari (Falk 1914 : § 87 + § 90; 181 – 182, 185 – 186). These two words were introduced into Old Norse from Middle Low German and they denote multi-layer linen gambesons of High and Late Middle Ages (Hjardar – Vike 2011: 194 – 196). In the Bayeux Tapestry armors are so simplied, they can represent mail, scale, lamellar armors or even gambesons, which are quilted in vertical or diamond patterns. In any case, they may be linked to professionalization of the army in 11th century.

 

3. Style 

Dánové

The attack of the “Great Danish Army” from the manuscript M.736, fol. 9v, about 1130 AD.

Determining what style of the padding was used is probably the most difficult of all to answer, because it requires knowledge of contemporary clothing. It can be assumed that the cut of clothing was not entirely consistent over all the lands that the Norse enhabited. Also, it can be postulated that there were gradual improvements – i.e. the strengthening the individual parts and increasing the number of layers with the need of quilting.

Apparently, most of warriors in Sagas of Icelanders fought without armor, which can be interpreted as they could not afford quality armor or they acted too spontaneously to think about protection. However, from two extreme examples (Helgi, the hero of Vápnfirðinga saga, binds a big stone to his chest to avoid the injury, and Þóri Þorsteinsson, the fighter of Hákon the Good and veteran of Battle of Fitjar, cut a hole in an oxen hide and put that over his head) showing the same kind of ad hoc improvisation and the pattern of not having the armor in the fight. In some cases, warriors of sagas put on festive tunics before a fight; in the most dramatic moments of their life, fashion was more desirable than good protection. Frankish and English illuminations from the 10th – 12th centuries depict a variety of warriors clad only in caps and tunics. It is reasonable to assume that padding was virtually identical to those typical, civilian clothes, and their protective function was achieved by layering them. That means, a classic tunic (kyrtill/skyrta), knee-length garment without buttons or fastening, with long sleeves and gores. The neckline could have a lapel and collar to protect the neck, as Skjoldehamn and Guddal tunics. Likewise, coats (Klappenrock) or Eastern caftans with buttons could, of course, serve the same function.

Add. MS 24199 fol. 18

Cotton Ms. Cleo. C VIII, fol. 18v, the end of the 10th century.

This solution is illustrated in at least a few sources. The first is the illumination of the Anglo-Saxon version of The Psychomachia of Prudentius (fol. 18v, see the picture), which dates back to the late 10th century. In this illumination one can see two fighters – dancers in short ring shirts with dagged edges and under tunics that reach the knees and wrists. Practically the same solution appears in several manuscripts illuminations from the 10th – 11th century (see eg. a scene from The Book of Maccabees of St. Gallen, Fulda SacramentaryThe Golden Gospels of EchternachThe life of St. Albin and Stavelot Bible). There are also literary sources with statements about fabric under armor, namely Saga of Magnus the Good (ch. 29), which states that “King Magnus threw off from him his coat of ring-mail, and had a red silk shirt outside over his clothes [ok hafði yzta rauða silkiskyrtu] […].”

Předpokládaná rekonstrukce bojovníka uloženého v Gjermundbu, 10. století. Podle

Expected reconstruction warrior stored in Gjermundbu, 10th century. Taken from Hjardar – Vike 2011: 155.

This short quotation forces us to imagine a padding as several layered tunics. Personally, we use this solution and it allows the wearer to freely add / remove the number of layers, clean tunics separately and finally use separate tunics outside the combat context. Two Norwegian finds – Skjoldehamn and Guddal – contained paired tunics, which have been experimentally proven by us to be a good protection against cold and padding worn under the mail armor.

We can also imagine that padding could be made from tunics sewn together showing that padding is a special war garment that hardly finds application in a non-combat situations. It is often argued that Byzantine sources describe padding that is similar to a gambeson. An anonymous treatise on the strategy from the 6th century gives a particularly interesting testimony:

There should also be a space between the armor and the body. It should not be worn directly over ordinary clothing, as some do to keep down the weight of the armor, but over a garment at least a finger thick. There are two reasons for this. Where it touches the body the hard metal may not chafe but may fit and lie comfortably upon the body. In addition, it helps to prevent the enemy missiles from hitting the flesh […].”(The Anonymous Byzantine Treatise on Strategy, §16, ed. G. T. Dennis )

In Scandinavia, the existence of such a one-pieced textile represents the term treyja, which could mean that specialized clothing began to be used in the later period (11th / 12th century onwards), but due to the nature of our sources, we can neither accept or reject this idea with 100% certainty. We have to admit that both variants are possible. Thickness of the special garment could be around 1 centimeter. During the making of such a piece of clothing, we would personally avoid excessive quilting; we would only stitched the layers at hems.

Armors with possible integral lining. A scene from the Bayeux Tapestry. Around 1070’s AD.

Scandinavian iconography suggests that the length of padding adapted to the length of chain mail. It is even possible to think about the intergral lining of the mail armor, as the Bayeux Tapestry suggests; it shows armors carried on spears, not worn by anyone, with wide coloured borders, perhaps suggesting that the padding was in some way integral to the armor itself, and scenes on the border also depict armor being removed from men that are clearly naked underneath, which also suggests integral padding that is removed with the mail.  The Psychomachia of Prudentius and other contemporary illuminations, however, shows the opposite. With few exceptions, we can say that until the early 11th century, Scandinavians surely used shorter mail armors, with the length up to 70 cm and short sleeves. Mail components, such as protection over the neck or legs, were missing. During the 11th century, we can observe how the armor lengthened, which was due to Continental influence and which culminated in the use of a complete mail armor set.

We are strictly against the use of modern padding, which is haphazardly stitched together and which looks more like rags or slave clothing. The padding – no matter how it looked – had to be aesthetically pleasing and had to reflect the status of the owner. Some reenactors and organizers of festivals like to say there are no sources, so every version is possible. The goal that we reenactors should achieve is the least disturbing look that is in accordance with what we can see or read in sources. Now we will compare the Viking Recreation combat of the Modern Western European style to Modern Eastern European style. Modern Western (example here) is a style where the head is not a legal target and the force of blows is much less. This style combat is so safe it allows one to use no armor, and the historical look can be maintained. On the other hand, Modern Eastern style fighters (example here) are focused on hits with full force to protected target zones – a system that is illogical from the historical perspective. Western tradition allows to use a tunic as the main protective layer, while it is better to use more layers in the Eastern approach. The result we would like to achieve is that the armor can look historically correct in both styles, but with the different number of layers. On several occasions, we have fought in modern Eastern style battles with nothing but one tunic worn without mail armor; it turned to be a fight for our lives, the realistic feeling which gives one so much adrenalin to ignore hits from blunt weapons. Layered tunics, whether sewn or not, could be a good compromise between these two extreme approaches.

 

4. Reconstructions

We hold the opinion the image of reenactors is crucial in the reenactment. We strove for a quality article, but we can not completely demonstrate our thoughts without photos. Therefore, you can find a gallery below. We hope that the gallery will extend in the future. If you have any image of the appropriate padding, you can, of course, send it to us and we will publish it.

 

We believe that the problem has been overlooked so far and the battlefields are full of non-historical armors that look more like the Michelin-Man. In order to change the current trend, the discussion has been led, and therefore we are open to opinion and are willing to participate in further debates. The article was well accepted and a separate addition, “War coat – an experiment“, was written. The most important quote from the article says: “For a traveling fighter, it is impractical to carry civilian clothes and extra special combat protection, I think. It is more advantageous to combine these two requirements into one.

I hope you liked 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 my project on Patreon.


Sources and recommended links

The Anonymous Byzantine Treatise on Strategy. In: Three Byzantine Military Treatises, ed. a trans. George T. Dennis, Washington 1985: 1–135. Available at: https://oniehlibraryofgreekliterature.files.wordpress.com/2015/09/three-byzantine-military-treatises-by-george-t-dennis.pdf.

Saga of Magnús the Good (Magnús saga góða). Available at: http://www.heimskringla.no/wiki/Sagan_af_Magn%C3%BAsi_g%C3%B3%C3%B0a.

ARCHER, Gavin. Mail Shirts, in: The Viking Age Compendium, 2013. [online]. [ 2015-02-03]. Available at: http://www.vikingage.org/wiki/index.php?title=Mail_Shirts.

ARCHER, Gavin. Jacks and Gambesons, in: The Viking Age Compendium, 2014. [online]. [2015-02-03]. Available at: http://www.vikingage.org/wiki/index.php?title=Jacks_and_Gambesons. See the bibliography in the end.

FALK, Hjalmar. Altnordische Waffenkunde, Kristiania 1914.

HJARDAR, Kim – VIKE, Vegard. Vikinger i krig, Oslo 2011.

SKODELL, Henry. Schutzausrüstung des 11. Jahrhunderts in Mitteleuropa, in: Reenactment.de, 2008. [online]. [2015-02-03]. Available at: http://www.reenactment.de/reenactment_start/reenactment_startseite/diverses/kitguide/kitguide.html.

Roman subarmalis – thoracomachus – online.

The oldest gambeson from Bussy-Saint-Martin – online.

The reconstruction of quilted gambeson from the 13th century – online.