Inspiration #15, Faroese farmer

In the fifteenth part of the inspiration series, I’d like to introduce my good friend, archaeologist and linguist Ľubomír Novák, the former curator of archaeological collections of the National Museum of Czech Republic and a member of the Skjaldborg group.

Ľubomír’s name will probably sound familiar to those, who have been working in the field of Czech prehistoric and early medieval archaeology, linguistics and early medieval re-enactment for some time. He studied archaeology between 1999–2005 at University of West Bohemia in Pilsen and got a bachelor’s and master’s degree with his works “Archaeology of the Outer Hebrides” (2002) and “Evolution of archery in prehistoric Europe” (2005). From 2004 to 2006 he studied comparative linguistics and subsequently was a doctoral student until 2013, when he obtained a doctoral degree by the dissertation “Problem of Archaism and Innovation in East-Iranian Languages“. He became more known after publishing his Yaghnobi-Czech dictionary (2010), which won the award Dictionary of the Year 2014. Although Ľubomír specializes in prehistoric finds and Central Asian languages, medieval Scandinavia and Old Norse became his passion and he’s a long-time member Viking Age reenactor.

Ľubomír’s approach is a perfect example of how science and re-enactment can be combined. His profession, which includes learning the past and reconstructing it, commands him to portray his historical figure with a lot of details. In Ľubomír’s case, it is not just a paraphrase of the past, because he can go much further; thanks to his knowledge he can visit a historical festival with a wax table on which he writes information about participants in Old Persian, as Ibn Rustah and others did, more than a thousand years ago. Thanks to his remarkable versatility, he can obtain information from material and written sources. These skills appear to be essential and necessary for understanding broader context when reconstructing history.

And now comes the description of Ľubomír’s character, named Ljúfmar (which is an Old Norse variant of the Slavic name Ľubomír) Bogsveigir (archer; literally “bow-bender”):

Ljúfmar Bogsveigir is a farmer (húsbóndi) from the Faroe Islands. He comes from a farm in Kvívík on the island of Streymoy (Straumsøy). His costume represents the ideal form of a Faroese man at the turn of 10th and 11th century, a period described in the Færøyinga saga which describes the events in the Faroe Islands between 970 and 1035. This saga was also a valuable source of inspiration, although it must be taken into consideration, that it was written circa 250 years after the described events happened. According to archaeological finds, the owners of the Kvívík farm were rather affluent inhabitants of the Faroe Islands. As there are not many archaeological finds from the Faroe Islands, reconstructing the clothing is quite complicated – it is necessary to use analogies, especially from Norway, from where the Faroe Islands were colonized; we can also compare it with finds from other Norwegian Atlantic colonies – especially the Kingdom of Islands (i.e. Shetland, Orkney, the Hebrides and the Isle of Man), with which the Faroese traded briskly; other analogies could be Iceland, Greenland and Ireland.

The Faroe Islands were one of the major producers of woollen fabrics, which were exported mainly to Norway; on the other hand, they needed to import a lot of raw materials – wood, grain, ceramics, soapstone and products from it. The Faroe Islands also played an important role as the last stop for sailors sailing from Norway or Shetland on to Iceland (or further to Greenland). The farm in Kvívík was one of the rather wealthy ones in the Faroe Islands, and consisted of a long house (skáli) and a barn (fjós). The farmers of Kvívík raised several cows and sheep, and also made a living from fishing and hunting seabirds. Each Faroese family had a small fishing boat. According to a few indications, it can be assumed that the more affluent Faroese went to Norway or Shetland in spring to sell woollen fabrics (vaðmál).

Ľubomír’s costume consists of short linen underpants, woollen trousers, a linen lower and upper tunic, a woollen coat, a woollen lined hood, a woollen hat and a leather belt and shoes.

Linen underpants are cut from a single piece of fabric – they were made of fabric dyed in onions. The cut of the underpants (línbrækr) is based on a finding from Marx-Etzel, Germany. Woollen narrow trousers with hooks (leistabrækr) sewn from blue-white fabric woven in herringbone pattern are a replica of trousers found in Thorsberg, Denmark. The calves are wrapped in grey-black woollen weappings (spjarrar or vindingar), which lower part is tied with a leather strap and at the top they are fastened with a simple buckle. For decorative reasons, the wraps are once again wrapped with a ribbon (lindi?). Leather shoes (skór) are based on a finding from Coppergate, York, England. These shoes were chosen for practical reasons, although there were shoes found in Kvívík, but they are probably women’s shoes.

Linen uncoloured lower tunic (serkr/skyrta) is loosely inspired by finds of tunics from the Viking area, in this case only two triangular wedges were sewn on the sides; not the central wedges, which can be seen for example on the finding from Skjoldehamn, Norway. The upper tunic (kyrtill) has a cut based on the lower tunic found in Guddal, Norway (BRM 31/2), unlike the woollen original, it is linen, the fabric was dyed with onion skins. The tunic is decorated with two tablet-woven belts at the bottom, the sleeves are hemmed with a thin tablet-woven strap. The neckline of the tunic is made of two gaps, which are clipped together with a pair of simple bronze buckles. In the future, Ľubomír will have another woollen tunic based on the find of upper tunic from Guddal, Norway (BRM 31/1, see gallery), which, according to Færøyinga saga, will be red. The belt (belti) is decorated with a bronze belt buckle (hringja) and a strap-end (álarendi) in the style of Borre, a copy of the find from the Norwegian Vestfold. A decorative, rather festive, element is a tablet-woven belt (gjǫrð) with a swastika motif. He wears glass and bone beads (tǫlur) on his neck. A pocket (pungr), a knife (knífr), a salt container, flint and steel are hanging on his belt.

As it often rains and blows in the Faroe Islands, a woollen hood (hǫttr) is a necessary accessory; this one is based on Skjoldehamn find in northern Norway. The hood is lined with linen fabric, and is tied with a drawstring at the back to fit better. Ľubomír is also protected from rain and wind by a relatively large wool cloak (feldr) sewn from two long strips of indigo-dyed fabric. The upper hem of the cloak is decorated with a tablet-woven strap based on a find from Birka. The Faroese fastened their cloaks with bronze ringed pins (dálkr) of the so-called Hiberno-Norse type, as evidenced by archaeological finds from the burial ground in Tjørnuvík (Isle of Streymoy, see gallery), and the villages of Leirvík and Fuglafjørður (both Isle of Eysturoy). Ľubomír doesn’t have this part of his costume yet. A rather dressy accessory is a woollen pointed hat (húfa) decorated with a buckle and a raven and falcon feather. The hairstyle is inspired by a hairstyle from the Bayeux tapestry.

In case of someone attacking the farm, Ljúfmar grabs an axe (øx) or a reflex bow (hornbogi/húnbogi), which he won in a poetry competition from Hrafn, who traded between the Faeroes, Túnsberg and Hólmgarðr.

There is a gallery of photos taken by Jana Lohnická and Katarzyna Fludzińska bellow, complemented by a picture of a needle from Tjørnuvík and a picture of reconstruction of a tunic from Guddal.


I would like to thank Ľubomír Novák for granting me permission to use his photographs and for detailed description of his costume. Here we will finish this article. Thank you for your time and we look forward to any feedback. If you want to learn more and support my work, please, fund my project on Patreon or Paypal.

30. ledna 2021

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