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Scott Woodruff

Joined: 30 Nov 2005
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PostPosted: Thu 30 Aug, 2012 9:00 am    Post subject: Early Iron Age Scandinavian dress and accessories         Reply with quote

I am looking for any info on dress and accessories for the period 400-200BC in Scandinavia, Germany and the Baltic. I have easily been able to find a ton of info on later Iron Age stuff, Nydam, Thorsbjerg, Vimose and such but almost nothing for the earlier period. I am trying to build a kit to go with some Hjortspring weapons and shields. Thanks to Peter Johnsson and the Hjortspring Guild's webpage I have some good info on the Boat, weapons and shields but no info on any smaller objects that may have been found at Hnjortspring. I do not know of any other finds from this period and general are. Here are links to the thread about Hjortspring weapons and the Hjortspring Guil's page:
Any help anyone can provide will be appreciated. I will post pics of whatever I make for this kit and update with any info I manage to find periodically.
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Rune Vildhoj

Location: Denmark
Joined: 21 Jun 2012

Posts: 15

PostPosted: Fri 31 Aug, 2012 4:28 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

There are plenty of finds from iron age in scandinavia - though obviously most non-organic such as weapons and pottery, though several tombs and bogs with anearobic conditions have wellpreserved textiles, leather and wooden goods.
Here are a few links you can explore (though must explanatory text are in danish - PM me for translation if needed):

Wellpresevered bog-sacrifice from 400-300BC:
Try clicking around even if you cant read the text - plenty of self-explanatory pictures of clothing and accessories, actual finds as well as recreations, from just the period you want

Housing and domestic life - Reconstruction project at Lejre:

General portal - The National Museeum in Copenhagen:
(click sublinks at leftside column)

And I'm sure fellow forumites from Sweden and Norway will provide similar from their areas..
Interesting period by the way - keep us updated on your creations

Life is understood backwards but lived forwards.
Experience causes understanding.
History is the longest experience of life.
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Peter Johnsson
Industry Professional

Location: Storvreta, Sweden
Joined: 27 Aug 2003
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PostPosted: Fri 31 Aug, 2012 6:26 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

There is a book on the "Bog People" by P V Glob.
Translated in english:

Printed in 1965, it does not give you the latest in research but I think it is an excellent introduction non the less.

He covers finds of human sacrifices in bogs in Denmark and northern Germany. Some of these had pieces of clothing surviving, and PV Glob discus these finds.
In roman accounts it is said that the men of the people of the north walked around more or less naked, with only a short fur cloak over their shoulders. Some bog finds seems to confirm this view.
I do not know if this is the current idea in research.
The short fur cloak is found with some of the men sacrificed. Wool can survive in the bogs and female bodies have been found with woolen clothing. This is lacking among male bodies, as far as I know, but I would not pretend to be an expert.

The fact that these persons were sacrificed also puts them apart from "ordinary" people and their clothing habits. Perhaps being stripped naked was part of the ritual?

Glob´s book on the bog people is an engaging and evocative read, If you want to get some "flesh on the bones" on these iron age people, that book affords a good read.
Scouring the net for more contemporary research in PDF format might also prove rewarding. I have yet to do this myself.

I have long wanted to put together a Hjortspring kit myself. Since they had mail shirts (probably reserved for the high ranking warriors/ officers), it would be an interesting reenactment project: A Hjortspring leader with lance, javelin, shield, mail shirt and war knife.
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Scott Woodruff

Joined: 30 Nov 2005
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PostPosted: Sat 01 Sep, 2012 3:37 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thank you Rune, I'll spend some time checking out those links, it looks like there is some good info in there. Luckily, I can read just enough Danish to navigate, but I will definetly take you up on your offer to translate sooner or later Wink

Thanks Peter, I just ordered the book "Bog People." I remember seeing that book in my high school library twenty years ago. I actually tried to make one of the fake-fur woolen short-capes a few years ago, so if I can not get my hands on a good skin I will perhaps try another one of those. IIRC, the fur-capes were usually goatskin? Anyhow, I am just finishing a pair of leggings based on those of the Sǿgårds Mose man. I have some linen Thorsbjerg trousers for those events where nudity from shoulders to knees is not approved of. I also have a pair of shoes from my Viking kit that may work and am having another pair made. The book "Ethnic Identity and Imperial Power, the Batavians in the Early Roman Empire" provided some good info, such as the fact that belt-hooks were used rather than buckles. I'll post some pics of my progress when I can. I am curious about the lack of helmets, it seems that it would be more practical to make a helmet 1st priority and then worry about the brynja. Perhaps they wore thick woolen felt or naalbound caps or hide or horn helmets? I am not aware of any helmet finds anywhere near Hjortspring in time and place. Thanks Peter, as always, I appreciate your help.
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Mikael Ranelius

Location: Sweden
Joined: 06 Mar 2007

Posts: 252

PostPosted: Sat 01 Sep, 2012 12:09 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The 2300 year old Gerum cloak ought to be mentioned in this thread:
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Scott Woodruff

Joined: 30 Nov 2005
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PostPosted: Sat 01 Sep, 2012 3:08 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thank you Michael. That appears to be an oval cloak folded in half, presicely identical to those found in bronze-age dug-out oak coffins.

I was just reading "Ancient Germanic Warriors: Warrior Styles from Trajan's Column" and apparently it was not uncommon for mailed warriors to wear no helmet or openwork helmets to show off their hair. Apparently it was a custom in many Germanic tribes to identify the prowess of a warrior by their hair style, with unproven warriors wearing the "Squalor" or long unkempt hair in their faces, while proven warriors wore even longer locks in either a knot or held back by a hair-band. According to the book, the design of some Vendel age helms reflect this tradition, with some having transverse bands mimicing the hairband and some having openwork sides to show off the hairstyle underneath. In this context, the existence of 10 mail coats and no helmets makes perfect sense.

Edit: I remember seeing a show on Nat Geo or Discover or something like that in which a scientist talked about her discovery of impressions of very fine woven cloth in the skins of some Danish? bog bodies. Apparently linen was widely used for undergarments but is never preserved in the acidic bog soil. Does anyone know what show I am talking about? I would like to find it on DVD if I can.

Edit: Here is a link to "Bog People" :;f=false
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Rune Vildhoj

Location: Denmark
Joined: 21 Jun 2012

Posts: 15

PostPosted: Sun 02 Sep, 2012 2:29 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote


Looking at my bookshelves while dusting this weekend, it occured to me that I had several books on Late Bronze age / Early Iron age. Decades old like the one Peter mentioned and mostly filled with weapons and sacrificial bog finds, but with some good pictures/drawings on various pieces of furniture and domestic equipment, revealing usefull techniques such as as the use of hooks in assembly. Does this have your interest or are you mainly interested in personal garments? No scanner at home, but I can use one at work if you specify your interest..

As for textiles, I have not seen the show your refer to, but know that several finds, including the "Huldremose-woman"
indicates the use of some plantfiber cloth worn as first layer on the skin. Could be both linen or nettle-fiber. Sadly though, acidic conditions have near completely destroyed the actual garments. In some bogs though, the mineralization (natural of from decomposing metalartifacts) has preserved not only leather (and thus also human skin) but also textiles in close to perfect condition. Hence Denmark has the largest collection of prehistoric textiles. Mostly from burials (which would be upper-class) and sacrifice (not only human, also around weapons).
At this period of time though (Early Iron Age Scandinavia), it seems that most clothes were not gender-specific in the region, but rather based on standardized, rectangular, wrap-around garments with wowen egdes on all sides. Those could be worn in different styles or even funtion as blankets. The quality of wool was much superior to what had been available in Bronzeage and cloth was usually both strongly coloured (mostly yellow, some red and blue)and wowen in distinct patterns. Check this link for details and examples:

As for the importance of hair, I can only second what you have stated. All evidence (including the sacrifice of lone cut-off braids and locks of hair) seems to indicate the Romans were spot on in their depictions. To my knownlegde (please correct me if anyone knows better?), the exact meaning of various styles is not know, but the more valued a person was (Chief, Warrior, Priest etc.), the more elaborate the hair- and beard styles. Sources on this within the culture does not exits before many centuries later (age of vikings), but it seems a fair guess that key elements could have been the same until Cristianity, as the religion (Asa-faith) retained traces of even older gods and anime (vana). As you said, this would explain the scarcity of helmets as well as their design.
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Scott Woodruff

Joined: 30 Nov 2005
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PostPosted: Sun 02 Sep, 2012 7:39 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thank you very much Rune. I am particularly interested in just about anything and everything related to 4th-3rd CBC Denmark and Northern Germany Wink I would love it if you could scan some pics, particularly of clothing, shoes, belt-hooks, fibulae, anything with decorations on it, combs, basic tools, just about anything that an early iron age person would wear or carry around on their person. Furniture sounds great too! Pottery, cooking utensils and other domestic equipment would be very helpful too.

My kit will have linen underclothes, which aside from historical defensibility are necessary for me, I have a hard time wearing wool against the skin. Luckily modern storebought linen is not too different in weave and thread count from iron age linen. Wool is another story, it is a rare and lucky find to find wool cloth that even vaguely resembles iron age wool. Eventually I want to weave my own wool cloth so that I can more closely approximate what they had. I do a lot of naalbinding, and while I am aware of naalbound items from before and after the early iron age in Denmark, I can not think of any examples from this particular time period.

As to hair, I think it is so important to the portrayal that I will include a wig with long golden locks in the kit Wink
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Niels Just Rasmussen

Location: Nykøbing Falster, Denmark
Joined: 03 Sep 2014

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PostPosted: Fri 17 Apr, 2020 2:29 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Scott: Since you are looking for accessories for the period of 400-200 BC in Scandinavia.

What is pretty special for Denmark in the "pre-roman iron age" (500 BC - 1 BC) is the "Kronehalsring" [crown-neck-ring]. They are the result of "cire perdue" [lost wax casting].

If you see this pdf (page 95-99) that is a Kompendium for helping new detector-people to identify their finds.

The map of finds [page 99] shows a concentration centre in Jutland with apparent connections to Northern Germany, Poland and Ukraine.
Only one kronehalsring from Sjælland as another type "kuglehalsring" is found here instead.
This exampled is from Møn (south of Sjælland):

The heavy type kronehalsring appears to be later (200 - 1 BC) where the flatter type kronehalsring should be indicative of the Hjortspring period (or at least just after).

Fejø Ring from around ~ 300 BC.

The bottom picture in the above paper is the Gåskær Ring shown "disassembled - is also an earlier flatter type.
Here is a picture of it assembled.


Late heavy type of kronehalsring fra Væth Enge, Ørum.


Something for the male Jutland warrior of his day?
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