Herjolfsnes nos.33, 34

Pattern drawing based on Nörlund

A man's tunic, excavated at 1840, at the same site. It is made of a "brown four-shaft twill (i.e. 2/2 twill), very heavy". The determination of gender is based simply on the size of the garment.

It is cut in a front-piece, a back piece, neither with a center gore. There are two gores on each side. The two main pieces gradually increase in width from top to bottom. Both side pieces are cut with one side having a selvage edge. The back piece does not appear to have been modified to attach the sleeve, and remains essentially a straight line from shoulder to hem. The sleeve consists of two halves, with the usual gore behind the shoulder.

Length from Shoulder to Hem: 108 cm (42.5")
Waist Circumference: 113 cm (44.5")
Hem Circumference: 277 cm (109") of which the side gores make up 1.7 m (66.9")
Armhole Circumference: 55 cm (21.7")
Neck Cirumference: 73 cm (28.7") with the the rear piece making up 35 cm (13.8").
Sleeve Length: 57 cm (22.4")

No. 34 is 2.75 m (108.3") wide, other wise was too damaged to determine much about it beyond a certain resemblance to No.33.

Maggie Forest made a separate examination of the materials of H33, H38, H39, H43, H45, H61, H65 and had the following to say:

The fabric is invariably 2/2 twill. The threads are less than a mm thick, the fabric wasn't fulled. The result is a slightly open weave, which would have held warmth like a modern knitted sweater. The gap between each thread would be about 1/3-1/2 mm - noticeable. The warp is spun with kemp hairs included for strength, the weft is just the soft under coat, and so the fabrics have a distinctive almost tweed-like appearance. The open weave and the twill weave would have made these fabrics drape like dreams. Despite the fact that they weren't terribly tight-fitted (although I have a thought on that too) they would have looked it, because the fabric would have clung quite closely.

The seams are just amazingly fine. They're done from the same thread as the fabric is woven from, and stitches are frequently only about 1mm long. There are places where Nörlund states that there is no hem, only a fold-over, but in fact there is a seam there, it's just so fine you need to look under the microscope. Leaning back, you can just see a shadow line from the seams, but the stitches are minute.

[The Greenlanders] used a stitch now known as priksom for a top stitch.  It is a running stitch, but it goes through the fabric diagonally and ends up looking totally like a modern machine seam, with each stitch butting close to the next..

The tablet woven edge that is extant in the London material also appears in the Greenland material. A couple of the hoods have a quite wide edge, about 1.5 cm wide, done in this way, which gives a really distinctive looking edge with wide stitches on the back. Very tidy.

[Forest agrees with Robin Netherton's assertion that the Nörlund's pattern diagrams are flawed.]  They really look nothing like it. This may be because he drew the diagrams before the first conservation, but for example, there really aren't those curves in the 39 gown.

The false seams were not used to add additional fit - they are even all the way through the garment.

This page was last modified 11 June 2003

Some Sources:

Go to Tunic Page; Herjolsnes Site Page

Some Clothing of the Middle Ages -- Kyrtles/Cotes/Tunics/Gowns -- Herjolfsnes 33, by I. Marc Carlson, Copyright 1996 This code is given for the free exchange of information, provided the Author's Name is included in all future revisions, and no money change hands-