Fact 1: The Vikings loved clothes with bright colours and patterns
Viking clothes were not as dull and boring as you might think – they loved to wear bright colours and striking patterns!
In fact, the Vikings had all sorts of colours to choose from, including:
They got these colours by grinding down items from nature such as plants. For example, the colour red came from plant roots.
The colour red was the most expensive colour, as the plant roots only grew in countries such as France (Francia), meaning the Vikings would have to trade.
The Vikings also liked to express themselves with vibrant and bold patterns on their clothes. We know this due to some of the pieces of clothing that have been excavated from the Viking age. Many of the recreations of Viking clothes we see in museums today use patterns inspired by Viking art.
Fact 2: Layers were important
The Vikings liked to stay warm, so layers were essential! Most Vikings usually wore the same clothes as each other, although outfits did differ slightly from region to region.
Both men and women liked to wear different layers of clothing. Men often wore tunics on their upper body, with long sleeves for winter and short sleeves for warmer months. These tunics often went all the way down to the Vikings’ knees, and often featured patterns and bright colours. Women usually wore dresses that reached down to their ankles, including an underdress and a strap dress. The strap dress looked similar to long-length aprons we have today.
Viking men also wore trousers made of wool or linen, and evidence suggests they also used leather belts. However, leather belts were probably reserved for the richer Vikings, while poorer Vikings and slaves may have used a simple string around their waist.
You may be wondering, what did the Viking men wear for underwear?
Their trousers were their underwear! Richer Vikings wore linen trousers as they made for more comfortable underwear, while wool was reserved for lower classes.
Fact 3: Viking men and women loved to accessorise
As well as their tunics and dresses, Vikings enjoyed adding further accessories to their outfits for their head, legs and more!
Leg wrappings were a must-have for a complete Viking outfit. Leg wrappings were a strip of cloth that Vikings wrapped around the lower half of their legs over their trousers. These wrappings were typically made of wool.
Vikings also frequently wore cloaks. Cloaks were made of a simple square of wool or linen, and were made in a variety of colours. Different colours may have been used to represent different classes, or just for self-expression. These cloaks were very handy, as they could be used to hide weapons or just to stay warm.
Some Viking women would also wear a head-covering, which was a piece of material knotted at the front or back. Historians are not sure whether these head-coverings were used for practical reasons, such as keeping hair out of the way while preparing food, or for decorative reasons on special occasions.
Fact 4: The Vikings had waterproof clothes
Believe it or not, waterproof clothing is not a modern invention. Today, we rely on waterproof coats, hats and more, and the Vikings had their own version of this too!
To make their waterproof clothes, the Vikings used beeswax on animal skins, before adding a layer of fish oil. The oil prevented water from soaking into the animal skins.
This solution may not be as high-tech as the clothes we wear today, but it worked perfectly well for the Vikings, allowing them to go about their lives without having to worry about the weather!
Fact 5: It was common for both men and women to wear jewellery
Excavations by archaeologists have revealed many pieces of jewellery made during the Viking age. The jewellery they found were made with a range of metals, intricate designs and beautiful artworks.
It is believed that jewellery was worn by both men and women in Viking society, and the jewellery was worn for a variety of reasons.
3 key reasons the Vikings wore jewellery were:
- To indicate their wealth
Just as we like to wear jewellery as an accessory today, so did the Vikings! Men and women liked to decorate themselves with rings, necklaces, brooches and bracelets.
Some Vikings also used jewellery to express their religious beliefs, much like how Christians wear crosses as a symbol of their faith today.
Viking jewellery has also been found in a variety of materials, some worth more than others. Historians believe that richer Vikings wore more expensive metals.
Some jewellery was used for non-decorative reasons, for instance, Vikings also wore brooches to fasten up their cloaks.
One item of jewellery that Vikings did not wear was earrings, as this was not a part of their culture.