By Ásfríðr Úlfvíðardóttir and Rebecca Lucas
Published Online (2011)
Introduction: Shawls and mantles are a type of garment that seems to receive very little attention in feminine Late Iron – and Viking – Age dress. These untailored panels of fabric are presumed to be worn across the shoulders, covering the upper body and pinned centrally on the collarbone, or chest. While on the archaeological side, there is a focus on brooch positions and fabric fragments, the question of how a shawl could be worn to achieve the two major styles from contemporary artwork– ‘triangular’ and ‘rectangular’ — does not seem to be discussed. Publications and information aimed at re-enactors have aimed to answer this question but, in my opinion, are unsatisfactory.
Drawing together archaeological evidence of textiles, fastenings, and artwork, from Scandinavia and neighbouring cultures around the 8th-10th centuries. It is hoped that we can build up a picture of what a Viking Age shawl may have looked like, particularly the ubiquitous ‘triangular’ shawl from art.