Viking Weaving

15 Feb 2013

At the start of the twentieth century, an ancient Viking burial mound was excavated at the Oseberg farm near Tønsberg, Norway. In it, archaeologists found various grave goods, two female skeletons, and a seventy-foot long Viking ship.

Among the various grave goods was a collection of textile-related tools, including several small looms (at least one for tubular weaving and two for braid weaving), a number of weaving tablets, spindles, linen clubs, and shears (possibly for clipping wool off the animal).

One of the most exciting finds (well, for those of us who are cloth-inclined, at least) was the collection of textiles discovered. Several hundred textile fragments were found, some in terrible condition and some of which were incredibly well-preserved, down to the bright pigments. These pieces of cloth are some of the only Viking-age textiles ever discovered in the modern era.

Archaeologists found tapestries woven with brocade, blankets, tablet weaving, and various pieces of cloth including some finely woven silk. As if all that weren’t enough to make your weaving heart go pitter-patter, a tablet-woven braid in the process of being woven was found with the rest of the warp and fifty-two tablets attached. 

From these textiles and tools (and I suppose the ship and other fancy grave goods), archaeologists and historians have been able to learn much more about Viking culture and art. If these short descriptions have you wanting to see these fabulous finds for yourself, check out this website. While there are no color photos of the textiles, there are plenty of black and white photos as well as color sketches. 


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