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David Huggins




Location: UK
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PostPosted: Tue 26 Feb, 2008 10:52 pm    Post subject: Leather Lamellar?         Reply with quote

Hi guys

A query about the provenance of leather lamellar as worn by many re-enactors of Slavic/Russ Vikingr, and occasionally Germanic re-enactors.
I personally do not know of any provenance, o.k. leather is organic and may not survive admittidely, but I was hoping our members in the Slavic countries may have some provenance that has not been published in the 'West.'
best regards
Dave

and he who stands and sheds blood with us, shall be as a brother.
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Dan Howard




Location: Maitland, NSW, Australia
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PostPosted: Wed 27 Feb, 2008 4:25 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

There is no evidence for any lamellar being worn by Scandinavian cultures during the Viking period regardless of the material from which it is made.
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Randall Moffett




Location: Northern Utah
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PostPosted: Wed 27 Feb, 2008 5:23 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I do not know if I'd say there is no evidence but it is very limited. Most lamellar evidence comes from various translations of old texts of which the term may or may not be lamellar or archaeological evidence that may or may not be in their period and or misidentified. Either way if I were to do viking reenactment, which I have in the past, mail is much safer. Either way though there is room to argue in many cases but even the more credible texts could be a number of various armours instead of lamellar.

Here is a past post for some ideas on the topic.

http://www.myArmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?t=2834&start=80

I do not know what eastern academia is up to really sadly.

RPM
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David Huggins




Location: UK
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PostPosted: Wed 27 Feb, 2008 9:56 am    Post subject: Leather lamellar         Reply with quote

Thanks for the replies.I find it difficult to agree fully that no lamellar was used by scandinavian influenced cultures during the Viking Age, due to the plates of metal lamellar from the Birka Black Earth excavations and reports. Although it would be more appropiate to say I guess Slavic influenced cultures in this case, especially as other Slav influenced materials are also present in this area.

Again I am aware it is difficult to ascertain with any certainty what leather 'armour' mentioned in the sagas appeared like, but I hold out hope that our Slavic members may be able to point me in a more specific direction to support or otherwise not, the authenticity of leather lamellar among the Slavic Russ Vikingr.
best
Dave

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Robin Palmer




Location: herne bay Kent UK
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PostPosted: Wed 27 Feb, 2008 10:59 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi David

Given the Viking / Russ contacts through Kiev to Byzantiam I would be surprised if some lamala didn't make it back to Norway. On the whole I have to agree that it is unlikely to have been locally made the Vik are more likely to have made scale easyier to make and just as effective. As I understand it lamala was favoured because it provided excellent protection against arrows but was vunerable to cutting weapons severing the lacings which held it together. Wire would reduce this but add to the complication of making. It is noticable that it was most popular amongst peoples who favoured horse archery or were liable to face horses archers.
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Paul Mortimer




Location: England, Essex
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PostPosted: Wed 27 Feb, 2008 12:43 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

http://www.diva-portal.org/su/theses/abstract.xsql?dbid=1272
If you go to the above you can download a very useful thesis about the Birka Warrior, Hedenstierna-Jonson, clearly reports the several findings of lammelar within the remains of the town of Birka.
Dave is right!

Paul
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Dan Howard




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PostPosted: Wed 27 Feb, 2008 1:12 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

There are references to something called spangabrynja in the sagas which were written after the period in question.
There was lamellar found at Birka which has been identified as Central Asian or Siberian. IIRC the burial practices in the area that the armor was found are also not Scandinavian - suggesting that a Scandinavian did not wear this armor.

That is it. No other evidence for Viking lamellar. If you want to wear lamellar then go serve in the Varangian Guard. If you want leather lamellar then go to Asia. Re-enactors are supposed to portray the typical not the exception. A viking wearing leather lamellar is just as bad as the Highlander Ninjas you see at Ren Fairs.
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Hugh Fuller




Location: Virginia
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PostPosted: Wed 27 Feb, 2008 3:24 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I do not believe that leather lamellar would have been used to any degree in Norhwestern Europe given its rainy and generally wet climate. Leather does not hold up well as a defense in the wet so I doubt that , absent some dort of Buff Coat, leather was much used by anyone who could get better and I suspect that most of the simple farmers relied upon a shield and, if available, some sort of a helm.

As to the use of metal or horn lamellar, I would suggest that the 11th Century "Charlemagne Chessmen" seem to indicate some sort of lamellar while those "Lewis Chessmen" in armor of some sort seem to be wearing mail. In both cases, figures wearing armor other than helmets and carrying shields are in the minority. Has anyone any idea of the dating of the "Charlemagne Chessmen?"

Hugh
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Please see 1 John 1:5
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Chase S-R




Location: New Mexico
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PostPosted: Wed 27 Feb, 2008 4:12 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Be careful of what you read many times they call scale armour lamellar instead of lorica squamata. I have personally seen this in some books where it show a picture of lorica squamata and has a caption that says lamellar. I would be hesitant to put any lamellar pre 1100 but it is possible that it existed as a rarity. As for leather lamellar there is no evidence that suggests it's existence.
Charles Stewart Rodriguez


Last edited by Chase S-R on Wed 27 Feb, 2008 6:26 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Gavin Kisebach




Location: Lacey, Wa US
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PostPosted: Wed 27 Feb, 2008 5:09 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Chase when most people talk about scale armor, the y are referring to metal scales that are sewn into a cloth backing. lamella are laced to eachother, not to a backing. It's not the same type of armor.
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Chase S-R




Location: New Mexico
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PostPosted: Wed 27 Feb, 2008 6:31 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I know this! I said it was what I saw incorrectly labeled in a book. I was warning him so he could be sure that he was discussing what he thought he was! (incase it confused you lorica squamata is the latin term for scale armour)
Charles Stewart Rodriguez
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Chase S-R




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PostPosted: Wed 27 Feb, 2008 6:33 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

By the way nice chess man, from the lewis set I believe, the berserker if I'm not mistaken.
Charles Stewart Rodriguez
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David Huggins




Location: UK
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PostPosted: Wed 27 Feb, 2008 11:14 pm    Post subject: Leather Lamella         Reply with quote

Thanks for the replies guys, if any of our Slavic members can provide further information I would be greatful.
I tend to agree with the Asiatic steppe horse archer theory for the use of a leather lamellar. Well waxed/oil treated leather should be able to stand up to the harsh climate weather conditions of North West Europe.
I am not saying that I personally wish to wear leather lamellar, just if there is any true foundation for leather lamellar favoured by a lot of European Slav/Russ re-enactors.
By the way re-enactors do not always have to show the 'norm' , there are many fine re-enactors-living history guys out there showing 'elite' individuals/units, there should be no problem with that as most are more then willing to explain that what they are portraying is just as such .
Speaking of lamellar, there is of course the germanic Niederstatzingen metal lamellar helm!
best
Dave

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Dan Howard




Location: Maitland, NSW, Australia
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PostPosted: Thu 28 Feb, 2008 4:32 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Chase S-R wrote:
I would be hesitant to put any lamellar pre 1100 but it is possible that it existed as a rarity.

The earliest lamellar I have found is in China during the Warring States Period - well before 1100. In Europe it was common in the Byzantine Empire - also well before 1100.
Quote:
As for leather lamellar there is no evidence that suggests it's existence.

Yes there is. Just not in Western Europe or Scandinavia during the Viking period.
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James Barker




Location: Ashburn VA
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PostPosted: Thu 28 Feb, 2008 6:29 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I have little to add other than there is one find that suggest leather scale in Western Europe from either the 11th or 12th century. Adam Berry from White Mountain Armory posted about it in a similar debate last year on the amour archive; unfortunately 9 months of posts were lost there and the search function is down so I have nothing to show you guys.

I would also add to what Dan has said about the Birka find being foreign; not only was that man buried in a non Scandinavian fashion but he was buried far from other graves from the same area. Really it adds up he was not Scandinavian and thus his armor was not of a Scandinavian fashion.

The biggest problem facing reenactors of “Viking” cultures is getting people to stick to culturally relevant material items. While trading happened not every item from every culture was available to everyone.

When I made my 10th century Hedeby kit I only used items found in 10th century Hedeby finds: shoes, belt fittings, clothing (as best the fragments suggest), armor, shields, and swords.

James Barker
Historic Life http://www.historiclife.com/index.html
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Paul Mortimer




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PostPosted: Thu 28 Feb, 2008 10:40 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Dan,
"There is no evidence for any lamellar being worn by Scandinavian cultures during the Viking period regardless of the material from which it is made."

This statement seems a little unreasonable when looked at in the light of the Birka graves. Charlotte Hedenstierna-Jonson concludes that the graves associated with the metal lammelar were of Scandinavian warriors because of all the other grave goods. She suggests that the warriors were of the Svear - although it is likely that they had adopted the culture of the Rus. She goes on to say that the Rus, themselves were mostly - but not all Svear.

Then there are the North German graves from late 6th and early 7th century that contain metal lammelar body armour and helmets -- Niederstotzingen is the only set of graves where this happens that springs to mind -- but I think that there are others. See the book "Alamannische Adelsgaber von Niederstonzingen" by Peter Paulsen for further information.
Now the 6th and 7th centuries are not the Viking period and the wearers were not - at that time at least - Scandinavians but the cultures were closely related and geographically not very far away. Lammelar was certainly known about in northern Europe whatever it's ultimate origin.

Incidentally, leather does keep most of its strength when wet, particularly if it is thick. Cuir boulli can be a problem, but well greased or waxed leather is extremely water resistant. Cuir Boulli can be made virtually water proof by immersing in hot beeswax.


Paul
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Elling Polden




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PostPosted: Thu 28 Feb, 2008 11:37 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

There is a reason one is beeing categoric here.
Everyone that has been to large european viking even the last then years can testify that there is almost as many lammelars as mail shirts in some places.
Simply because one has said it is POSIBLE that SOME scandinavians wore them. The result is that the quintesential Viking reenactor runs around with leather bracers, baggy rus pants and Lammelar armour.
Which is in any case not a passable reconstruction of a western Viking.

So for all PRACTICAL intents and purposes, leather armour is not representative for a dark age scandinavian.

Sorry if it sounds harsh, though.
It basically boils down to that you can't say definitely yes to everyone, its better to say no.

Elling, who has made a vow to not have ANYTHING found east of Norway in his viking kit...

"this [fight] looks curious, almost like a game. See, they are looking around them before they fall, to find a dry spot to fall on, or they are falling on their shields. Can you see blood on their cloths and weapons? No. This must be trickery."
-Reidar Sendeman, from King Sverre's Saga, 1201
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Dan Howard




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PostPosted: Thu 28 Feb, 2008 12:49 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Yep. As I said. A re-enactor is supposed to portray the typical not the exception. Any "viking" wearing leather lamellar is no better than the Highlander Ninjas one sees at Ren Fairs.
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Hugh Fuller




Location: Virginia
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PostPosted: Thu 28 Feb, 2008 1:33 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Now I am not arguing with Dan or Elting, but I am inclined to wonder why all of those Norse who wnet down to Miklagard where lamellar armor was pretty common never seem to have broght any back with them. The Byzantines were known to have worn their lamellar over mail as an extra layer of protection for their thoracic areas and who can blame them. So why didn't the Norse who have been thre make use of that feature?

BTW, I have noted that there are any number of re-enactors who, having heard of the ONE bronze Buddha found in the Norse area, show up at re-enactments wearing one instead of other religious items around their necks. In regard to neck religious items, Jeroen over at SFI has said that grave finds in Europe indicate that the ubiquitous Thor's Hammer was used almost entirely by women and children and not by men. What do any of you know of this?

Hugh
Still trying to walk in the Light
Please see 1 John 1:5
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Ville Vinje




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PostPosted: Thu 28 Feb, 2008 2:33 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Dan Howard wrote:
Yep. As I said. A re-enactor is supposed to portray the typical not the exception. Any "viking" wearing leather lamellar is no better than the Highlander Ninjas one sees at Ren Fairs.


Typical, yes. But typical within a specific area of history. To say "viking age" is very broad, to say norwegian viking is also broad. To say viking age Svitjod is broad, but not quite so broad. To say Birka warrior is not broad, yet you could say that there are typical features (not necessarily lamellar) to a Birka warrior that are not typical to viking age people in general.

So what we portrait is the typical, but not necessarily the general.
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