Viking Clothing – The Wool Tunic

The wool tunic was an essential piece of Viking clothing. It kept people warm and dry in the harsh Scandinavian climate, and was commonly worn as an outer garment or as a base layer under other layers of clothing.

In general, men and women wore tunics made of wool or linen. They were also usually decorated with braid. Braid was woven from brightly colored wool using the tablet weaving technique described in more detail later.

A common type of tunic for men and women was the tunic that reached to the knees or lower, with or without sleeves, belted at the waist and held at the shoulders by clasps. A keyhole neckline was the most popular, but many other shapes were used.

Most tunics were designed to be thrown over the head, though some were fastened to the body at the neck opening. They were often decorated with braid, and many people wore them with headdresses or necklaces.

They were often trimmed with sheepskin or fur, and some were lined to add extra warmth. Leather belts were common, but were narrower than the wide belts that came later. The free end of the belt was knotted around the body and held with a strap end that was also decorated.

Under the tunic, men and women warmth and weather often wore other outer garments that were made from either wool or linen. These included coats, cloaks and other types of garments that protected the wearer from the elements.

There were also outer garments that were suspended over the under garment, and were fastened to the body with a series of brooches. One such garment was the ankle length coat-like garment pictured to the right (it was probably used to protect from snow, ice and wind), but there are also examples of other kinds of outer garments that were used to cover the dress and were fastened with a series of oval brooches like the one in these skeletal remains.

The outer clothes of a Viking-age man are described in the Fljotsdaela saga, chapter 16. The garment is a gray tunic with flaps fastened up on the shoulders and loops hanging down at the sides. It is unclear if it was a bladakyrtill, but it may be similar to the tunic shown to the right.

In addition to the tunic, men wore a long coat that was probably made from wool, with sleeves that were also sewn into the coat. The coat was fastened with a brooch at the shoulder or a loop of thread, and it was worn over another undergarment called an overtunic, which was made from linen or wool.

Some Viking-age women wore a longer, lined skirt that was shaped more like a shift than a skirt. This was a very popular garment for Viking women, and it was sometimes referred to as a hangerock or an apron-skirt.

In the United States, wool and other textile products must be labeled to disclose fiber content. You must also disclose the country of origin and the name or RN of the manufacturer, importer or firm that handles, markets, distributes or sells the product.