Forensic Fashion
(c) 2006-present R. Macaraeg


>Costume Studies
>>575 Vendel warrior

Subject: noble warrior
Culture: Scandinavian / Norse
Setting: Vendel period, Scandinavia 6-8thc

Context (Event Photos, Primary Sources, Secondary Sources, Field Notes)

* Hedenstierna-Jonson/Ljungkvist/Price 2018 p13-14 (John Ljungkvist, "A prelude to the Vikings" p12-23)
"The Vendel period is traditionally seen as starting after 550 CE, ending a few decades before 800 CE.  The period is named after a group of warriors buried in boats in the Vendel area, a place by the countryside surrounding present-day Uppsala, north of Stockholm.  These rich warriors carried objects that were similar to those ... found mostly in another nearby burial field, Valsgärde.  Warriors honoured with a boat burial were laid alongside large sets of weapons, various kinds of household gear and animals such as horses, dogs, falcons and hawks for hunting, and livestock.  Together these objects signaled the staus and wealth of the deceased and his (or her) kin.  They mark the beginning of a burial practice that continued throughout the Viking Age.
    "Boat burials are actually quite rare in the Vendel period and most are found along the river Fyris water system.  However, despite being few, they are extremely important as the objects and human remains have been left intact.  Almost all other people in society before and during the Viking Age were cremated.  The remains from such burials have been fragmented and melted from the heat from the funeral pyre, and this happened to the princely burials in nearby cult center Gamla Uppsala, just north of present-day Uppsala's city limits.  Objects in those graves are of significantly high quality but unfortunately burnt into small melted fragments."

* Konstam 2018 p10
"This developing political unity in both Denmark and Sweden is recorded in the Icelandic sagas, written after the Viking era.  While some of these accounts are wreathed in myth and legend, they contain traces of what might actually have been happening.  Essentially, in Denmark during the later 5th century, the remaining Angles, together with the Jutes and Danes, coalesced under a single ruler into one political entity, while the Götar and Svear peoples of Sweden did the same.  The Ynglinga saga records that by the start of the 6th century the Swedes were ruled by a single powerful monarch, based in Uppsala.  In the epic poem Beowulf, set in pre-Viking Scandinavia, the hero came to the rescue of the Danish king Hrothgar, who is also mentioned in several of the sagas, and is presumed to have lived on Sjaeland in the early 6th century[.]  The poem describes him as one of teh Scandinavian 'sea kings', which in turn suggests the growing importance of the sea as a means of economic and political unity.
    "By this time a basic form of political administration was in place in both Denmark and Sweden, which allowed rulers like Hrothgar and his successors to levy armies, gather taxes and administer justice.  This period is sometimes known as the Germanic Iron Age, and roughly spans the years AD550-790, although in Sweden the term Vendel Age is preferred, coined after the discovery of well-preserved pre-Viking grave sites in the district of Vendel, part of Sweden's province of Uppland.  This region was the centre of royal power in Sweden, and these other archaeological remains of the period attest to an increasing level of wealth, trade and industry.  While Scandinavia remained an agrarian economy, and lagged behind other parts of Europe in temrs of economic and social development, it people [SIC] were busy laying the political, religious, agricultural and mercantile foundations for the Viking era which would follow close in its wake."


* Ashby/Leonard 2018 p47
​"Our knowledge of Viking Age helmets comes largely from fragments, but complete pre-Viking examples were deposited as offerings at cemeteries such as Valsgärde in central Sweden.  ....  It is tempting to regard such elaborate helmets as display pieces, but in this period of political transformation, power was held through a combination of military force, conspicuous consumption and chiefly largesse.  It is difficult to separate the military from the aesthetic, as local leaders maintained their status through ostentatious displays of military prowess."


* Konstam 2018 p38-39
"The Viking warrior's main item of clothing would be a woollen tunic, a garment whose appearance was largely unchanged throughout the Viking period. In fact, similar garments were also worn in Scandinavia for at least two centuries preceding the end of the 8th century. This was almost always knee length, with full skirts, gathered round the waist by a leather belt. It was fitted with sleeves that were normally long, and close-fitting, at least below the elbow, and reached as far as the wrist.




* Oakeshott 1960 p

* Ashby/Leonard 2018 p47
​"The practice of 'ring giving' to seal oaths was common throughout the Germanic world.  Swords themselves were also gifted from chieftain to follower in exchange for loyalty and service.  Some scholars believe that the term 'hring-mael' (ring ornament or ring sword) in the poem Beowulf preserves a reference to this type of sword.  Ring swords are not found after the late 7th century, although ring giving continued into the Viking Age."