Anglo-Saxon female guide
9th and 10th century Viking lower status
9th and 10th century Viking higher status
|Context||What cultural group / type of kit is being assessed?||Anglo-Saxon|
Anglo-Dane (C. 900-1020)
|Context||What gender is the candidate portraying?||female|
|Context||What date is the kit portraying?||C.800-900 (9th C variant)|
C. 900-1020 (10th C variant)
C. 1020-1066 (11th C variant)
|Context||What social status is being portrayed?
The status of unmarried women reflects the status of their father, while married women and widows reflect the status of their husband.
|Lower status covers the majority of the population – farm workers, tenants, artisans etc. Freedmen (leysingir) remained dependent on their lord, often for a number of generations, receiving board, lodging and clothing in return for labour. Free men (bondir, karls) varied widely in wealth and status. Some had their own estates and were responsible for their own households, but were unable to sell or bequeath their land, i.e. effectively tenants of their lord.
There is a separate page for very low status
|Higher status (level 3) Tenth century England saw considerable social change, with the emergence of a class of modest landowners – the thegnly class (effectively ‘gentry’ or minor aristocracy), these are local Community leaders (or leading local family)each holding five hides of land (roughly 600 acres). Level 3 also covers any retinue of the thegns, Master craftsmen and regional traders.
For very high status (level 4) See notes at the end. This covers men of substance, who owned landed estates or long distance business and trading ventures. The spectrum of noble (eorlisc) men went from five-hide thegns through to the Shire Reeves. It also includes the warrior-retainers who followed these great lords as his companions and bodyguards. Since they ate at their lord’s table, accompanied him to court meetings and lived at his side, they would be dressed and equipped to the best of his ability, to reflect his importance and wealth.
|Context||What is the occupation of the character being portrayed? Is the character typical or representative of those found in the early medieval world?|
|Footwear||Candidate has shoes of suitable design.||Turnshoes, either with toggles (made from leather) or laces Socks are either naalbinded or of unobtrusive modern design.||Turnshoes, either with toggles or laces. Socks are either naalbinded or of unobtrusive modern design.|
|Footwear||If candidate has hobnails or other grips in their shoes, they are aware that they are an inauthentic safety feature|
|Clothing||Candidate has leg-wear of suitable design. Mostly these will be hidden by the dress anyway so it is more a personal comfort/warmth decision but they may be seen by the public by accident.||Optional, to be worn under dresses for warmth:|
Tight-fitting trousers, Winingas, Knee length fabric socks.
Hose or half hose (from 10th century onward).
|Clothing||Candidate has underdress and overdress of suitable design.
for basic kit check, one dress is sufficient.
|Long underdress, reaching the ankles and to the wrists. This is usually made of linen or fine wool. Long overdress, reaching ankles and wrists, usually made of wool, but can be linen.
Both dresses should be closed at the neck either with ties, or a loop and bead.
|Underdress should reach at least to the ankles, sleeves should be tight-fitting, reaching the fingers, and be pushed back to the wrist. This is usually made of linen or fine wool. Long overdress, reaching ankles and wrists, usually made of wool, but can be linen.
Both dresses should be closed at the neck either with ties, a loop and bead or a disc-brooch.
|clothing||Candidate have belt of suitable design||Belts if worn should be woven or braided and are often made from the same material as the overdress. Women are often shown without a belt.||Belts if worn should be woven or braided and are often made from the same material as the overdress. Women are often shown without a belt. Some finds of woven belts with metal buckles and strap ends exist but are very rare.|
|Clothing||Candidate has headgear of suitable design.||Veil or Wimple worn with or without a fillet.
Headscarf may be worn instead
|Veil or Wimple worn with or without a fillet, often decorated.
Very high status: Head dress should be of fine wool or linen, fillet decorated with fine embroidery, silk may be used if the rest of the kit mandates it.
|Clothing||Candidate has a cloak of suitable design. This is optional for basic kit, though encouraged.||A rectangular cloak, preferably a single layer, or double layer in a single fabric, though it may be lined in a different-coloured fabric. (Remember fabric is wealth so depends on status) Secured with a simple brooch or cloak pin.||A rectangular cloak, often quite long and worn over the head as well as the body. May be lined in a different-coloured fabric, and should be secured with a decorative disc-brooch or cloak pin.
Very high status: Cloak should be lined and decorated. Can be semi-circular in shape (royalty only).
|Clothing||Fabric, colour and general state of clothing is suitable to the status of the kit.||Fabrics should ideally be un-dyed natural colours (browns and greys for wool), other colours should be light, muted, ideally faded or washed out. All edges are properly finished, with no visible machine stitching. Tear and wear must be repaired or patched to prolong its life.||Fabrics may be in relatively rich colours – though anything which could be described as “day-glo” is unacceptable. All edges are properly finished, with no visible machine stitching. Tear and wear must be repaired or patched to prolong its life. Very high status would most likely hand down worn clothes to people below them.|
|Clothing||Clothing has decoration consistent with the status of the kit, and of design appropriate for the cultural group and date.||Decoration should be limited and is optional; embroidery would probably have been removed and re-used when a garment was passed down. Decoration should be modest and simple, such as decorative hem stitches. This is not embroidery, but should still be fine stitches as there is no evidence for very large stitches made with coarse wool thread. Any embroidery should be modest, and in an appropriate style e.g. vine-scrolls in the ‘Winchester style’.||Embroidery is optional, but must be in an appropriate style e.g. vine-scrolls in the ‘Winchester style’.
Very high status: Embroidery is encouraged, and should be high quality. See examples at the end, ask for advice.
|Clothing||Candidate is able to explain to the public how each item of their kit would have been made and worn. The candidate can explain the evidence behind any unusual or typical items. Candidates seeking an advanced pass will be expected to have a greater degree of knowledge than those seeking a basic pass.||While reviewing the candidate’s costume, the assessor will ask questions or discuss items with the candidate, to establish their level of knowledge and confidence.
For a basic pass, the assessor may draw on their wider knowledge of the candidate's understanding and confidence.
|Misc||Candidate has jewellery in a material consistent with the status of the kit, and of design and decoration appropriate for the cultural group, location and date.||
Small disc brooches and cloak pins are encouraged. Wimple pins of bone or metal are a encouraged when wearing a wimple. Optionally a cross or crucifix of simple design in wood, bone or metal. Anglo-Danish variant: visible signs of paganism are strongly discouraged – the Danelaw rapidly converted to Christianity.
|Decorated disc brooches and cloak pins are encouraged. Penannular brooches should be avoided.
Wimple pins made of metal are a encouraged when wearing a wimple.
Optionally a decorative metal cross or crucifix, and decorated bronze, silver or gold finger rings. Bronze is not an option for very high status.
|Misc||Candidate has a satchel or bag of suitable design.||Encouraged, very useful. Preferred to oversized belt pouch.|
|Misc||Items on the candidate's Belt, such as pouches or other accoutrements, are consistent with the status of the kit, and of design appropriate for the cultural group and date.||Personal accessories can include: keys, sewing kit, flint and steel for lighting fires (with tinder), needle case - though most depictions of women show nothing carried on the belt.||Personal accessories can include: comb, keys, sewing kit, flint and steel for lighting fires (with tinder), needle case - though most depictions of women show nothing carried on the belt.|
|Misc||Candidate has eating utensils of suitable design. Eating utensils are encouraged but not required for a basic kit check – new members frequently rely on group kit as they acquire their own||A small eating knife up to about 4”-5” long, suspended vertically in a leather sheath (worn or kept with other kit in LHE). The handle should be wood, bone or worked antler (not rustic/natural antler). A wooden bowl or plate, a wooden or pottery cup, and a wooden spoon, are strongly recommended.|
|Misc||Candidate has items appropriate to the occupation and livelihood of the character they wish to portray; items are consistent with the status of the kit, and of design appropriate for the cultural group and kit. This is optional for basic kit.||Women’s work in the 9th and 10th century was limited to helping their husbands and looking after the house. Sewing, weaving and spinning are considered Women’s work. Drop spindles are encouraged||Higher-status characters are likely to be families of warriors and therefore less likely to undertake menial tasks, however spinning, embroidering, or looking after guests are all encouraged tasks.
Very high status: Only appropriate crafts are looking after guests, supervising many servants etc. They would not be cooking.
Examples and Variations
Most lower status clothing was more natural, browns, greys, creams etc from undyed wool and linen. Anything that is coloured could either have come from the end of the dye bath, be old clothing that has been sun bleached. Even if you are lower status your kit should be in good repair. You don’t know where or when your next piece of clothing will be available!
|This lady is wearing a long under and over dress. The natural/earthy colours show she is of lower status. The belt she is wearing is of tablet weave. From this she hangs her snips, presumably these are needed most throughout the course of the day. She is also wearing nalbinded socks and turn-shoes. In her shoulder bag she carries the rest of her belongings that she might need or owns. Her hair is covered.|
Very high status
The higher-status kit guidelines are a good starting point for the extremely wealthy and powerful. All kit should be made to the highest standard and be well decorated. This may feature gold and silver thread, gold or silver wire inlaid into metalwork, gold and silver jewellery. The costliest materials and colours may be used, including very deep, rich shades of crimson, purple and bleached white. Silk fabric is an option – though it should be smooth silk (midweight) or fine gossamer silk (but not ‘raw’/‘slubbed’ silk or shimmering two-colour ‘shot’ silk/dupion). All kit must be in good condition – anything damaged or dirty would be passed to a minion to clean/repair, or else given away.
|The close fit and the design on the cuffs is based on an illustration in Aldhelm’s ‘De Virginitate’, the necklace is a gold and garnet cross.||Full description|