Kyrtles/Cotes/Tunics/Gowns

Herjolfsnes no.43


Pattern drawing based on Nörlund

This garment is assumed to have been a man's because it was found with a hood, the length of the overall outfit is not very long compared to the sleeve length, and the skirt is not very full compared to the body.

It was not a carefuly, or well made garment. It is cut in front- and back-pieces, each with 2 center center and side gores. The waist is 92 cm (36.2") in circumference, the bottom hem is 230 cm (90.6"). The armhole is 58 cm (22.8") around. The neck opening is 79 cm (31") around, and there is an "keyhole neckline" opening that is cut to 18 cm (7.1") (as there is no sign of lacing eyelets or buttonholes, it may be presumed that it was kept closed by a clasp.

Unlike the majority of these outfits, the center gores are not joined together in one point, but sewn up in two separate points.

The pocket slits are places much higher up and further back than is usual, only 7 cm (2.8") below the bottom of the arm holes, and in the center of the gore.

There are clear signs of wear showing that this outfit was worn with a belt.

The lower edge, and the pocket slits were not hemmed. The sleeve ends, and the neck opening were turned under, but there is no sign that they were stitched or overcast.

The fabric is a four-shaft twill (i.e. 2/2 twill), thin, with a dark-brown warp and a light-brown weft.

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 43, by I. Marc Carlson, Copyright 1997 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-