Anglo-Saxon male guide

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Kit guide

Focus Assessment Requirements for:
9th to 11th century Anglo-Saxon lower status
(level 2)
Requirements for:
9th to 11th century Anglo-Saxon higher status
(level 3-4)

Context

Context| What cultural group / type of kit is being assessed?| Anglo-Saxon

Anglo-Dane (C. 900-1020)

Context What gender is the candidate portraying? male
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? 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 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

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

Clothing Candidate has leg-wear of suitable design. Tight-fitting trousers with Winingas required for English (optional for Anglo-Danish).

10th and 11th century variants: optionally hose and braes.

Tight-fitting trousers with Winingas required for English (optional for Anglo-Danish). Winingas may have a decorative top band.
10th and 11th century variants: optionally hose and braes.
Clothing Candidate has undertunic and overtunic of suitable design.

for basic kit check, one tunic is sufficient.

undertunic and overtunic should reach to the knee when worn with a belt. Undertunic sleeves should be tight-fitting, reaching the fingers, and be pushed back to the wrist.

Both tunics should be closed at the neck with ties or a simple bead and loop.

9th century variant: Tunics should be shorter, reaching to above the knee or mid-thigh when worn with a belt.

undertunic and overtunic should reach to the knee when worn with a belt. Undertunic sleeves should be tight-fitting, reaching the fingers, and be pushed back to the wrist.

Both tunics should be closed at the neck with ties or a simple bead and loop.

9th century variant: Tunics should be shorter, reaching to above the knee or mid-thigh when worn with a belt.

11th century variant: Tunics start to be longer for the high status and can be front and back split to allow the wearer to ride (level 4)

clothing Candidate have belt of suitable design belts should be plain leather, narrow and fitted with a simple bone, iron or copper alloy buckle. It is encouraged to use leather no thicker than 2 mm, or 1 mm leather folded double and stitched. Strap-ends are generally associated with sword belts, and so should be avoided. belt can be up to 1" wide. Buckles should be bronze, silver (silver imitation is acceptable) or decorated bone. A strap end should be fitted. It is encouraged to use leather no thicker than 2 mm, or 1 mm leather folded double and stitched. Stamped or embossed decoration on the leather is not permitted. Simple hand tooling may be used.
Clothing Candidate has headgear of suitable design. Optional:a Phrygian cap, a simple dome-shaped skull cap of multi-panel construction, or a hood. Optional:a Phrygian cap, a simple dome-shaped skull cap of multi-panel construction, or a hood.
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, between the waist and knee in length, which may be lined in a different-coloured fabric, 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; 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. English characters may have high-quality embroidery in an appropriate style e.g. vine-scrolls in the ‘Winchester style’. Fine-quality tablet braid and brocade braid is acceptable.

Very high status: 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.

Accessories

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. Belts should be plain leather, with a simple metal or bone buckle. Strap-ends are generally associated with sword belts, and should be avoided.

Small disc brooches and cloak pins are encouraged.

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.

A plain leather belt and buckle with suitable decoration on buckle and buckle plate, strap ends on sword-belts.

Decorated disc brooches and cloak pins are encouraged.

A decorative metal cross or crucifix is encouraged.

Decorated finger rings are encouraged.

Anglo-Danish variant: visible signs of paganism are strongly discouraged – the Danelaw rapidly converted to Christianity.

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: a whetstone; flint and steel for lighting fires (with tinder). Modern valuables should be kept in a draw-string pouch or preferably a satchel. A small pouch with replica coins and hacksilver, hung around the neck is encouraged. Personal accessories can include: a whetstone; flint and steel for lighting fires (with tinder); a comb. Modern valuables should be kept in a draw-string pouch or preferably a satchel.
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. The handle should be wood, bone or worked antler (not rustic/natural antler). A wooden bowl, 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. Agricultural workers and craftsmen may have relevant tools. Higher-status characters are (level 3) Local community leaders (or leading local family), their retinue, Master craftsmen, regional traders. Very high status (level 4) Nobility, their retinue, long distance traders, royal huscarls. Many of these are due military service and will have war gear (see below). Merchants should have examples of trade goods, means of payment and ideally an understanding of trade and financial transactions.

War gear

war gear Candidate has a helmet appropriate to the status of the kit, and of design appropriate for the cultural group and date. Anyone expecting to go on a battlefield, including non-combatants, MUST have a helmet. Concealed helmets are encouraged for non-combatants. Concealed helmets underneath a hat or hood are strongly encouraged. Conical helmets are acceptable conical helmets are preferred.
9th Century variant: domed helmets may be worn. Please consult the Society document on timeline restrictions on kit.
war gear Candidate has gloves which are not obtrusive or of obviously modern appearance at 3 metres / 10 feet, and with sufficient padding to offer reasonable protection. Candidate is aware that gloves are a mandatory safety feature for combatants, but not strictly authentic.
war gear If the candidate has any additional safety gear (such as armguards or other protection), they are either not visible or unobtrusive in appearance. The candidate must be aware that such items are inauthentic safety features. Armguards or other additional protection are not visible or can be worn unobtrusively.
war gear Candidate has a primary weapon appropriate to the status of the kit, and of design appropriate for the cultural group and date. bow or sling are encouraged. Spear, sword (with scabbard worn in a baldric over the shoulder). Bows or Javelins may be carried (also used by skirmish troops).

11th Century variant: baldrics fall out of fashion and sword belts with or without metal fittings start to be seen (encouraged). Long axes appear for high status professional warriors. Please consult the Society document on timeline restrictions on kit.

war gear Candidate has one or more secondary weapons appropriate to the status of the kit, and of design appropriate for the cultural group and date. Remember low status combatants are not warriors, they should turn and run away if confronted by a warrior. Short seaxes (up to 14” long) are an option, but discouraged.

DON’T MIX UP BLUNTS AND SHARPS!

Sword (with scabbard worn in a baldric over the shoulder) Langseax (21” long and upwards) with decorated sheaths. A Short seax is encouraged, and should have a well-decorated sheath. DON’T MIX UP BLUNTS AND SHARPS!

hand axes are discouraged.
11th Century variant: Swords (with sword belts, not baldrics with or without metal fittings) Short seaxes are rarely seen at this period. Langseaxs and Hand axes are discouraged.

war gear The candidate's weapons are in a reasonable state of repair and will pass safety checks to be used on the battlefield. weapons are tools, and you life would depend on them being in good order. For people of status, the weapons are also status symbols and as such would have been properly looked after.
war gear All of the candidate's weapons can be carried and stored in a safe manner, with scabbards, sheaths, covers etc, of design appropriate for the status, cultural group and date of the kit.

While weapons used on the battlefield must be combat blunts, the candidate should present them as if they are in fact sharp.

short seax must have a sheath. Arrows must be in a quiver. Sling stones must be in a bag or satchel. Swords must have a scabbard. short seax and langseax must have a sheath. Arrows must be in a quiver. hand axes should have a cover.
war gear Candidate has a shield of design appropriate for the cultural group and date. Option not available. A round shield.

11th Century variant: A kite shield instead of a round shield.
The decoration on the face of the shield uses paint of achievable colour and a design suitable for the culture and date.
The shield is in a reasonable state of repair and will pass safety checks to be used on the battlefield.

war gear Candidate has body armour appropriate for the status and date of the kit. Option not available Any armour would be well looked after, missing links would be replaced before larger holes developed.

Maille presented should not have any visible holes.
A maille haubergeon (with elbow-length sleeves and mid-thigh length) is optional.
9th century variant: a maille byrnie (with short sleeves, no more than waist length) may be worn.
11th century variant: a long maille hauberk (with elbow length sleeves, no more than knee length with front and rear split) may be worn. Often seen with a separate coif or integral coif as part of the maille coat. A padded Akheton may be worn under the maille hauberk (but may not be worn without the maille).

Examples and Variations

Lower Status

A tenant farmer, with his sling for defending his livestock or perhaps a chance for some bird on the menu. He is wearing mainly undyed fabric. Level 2 farmer2.jpg

Higher status

A landed farmer who have seen a few rough years, either due to weather, or Vikings. His land possession means he will still be due military service. Saxon tanner.jpg
A more well off landed Saxon farmer. A good walnut brown dye, and well made clothes. Low level 3 saxon male 1.jpg

Very high status

The higher-status kit guidelines are a good starting point for the extremely wealthy and powerful – from minor nobles the mighty ealdormen. 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. Any decoration should be high quality and can utilise silver/gold threads, silk etc. Thread used for braid and embroidery should be very fine – no “chunky” wools. 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.

This Englishman is clearly important – perhaps not a thegn, but certainly a trusted retainer and probably a landowner of some sort. His over-tunic is made from patterned wool and his under-tunic (dyed a pale yellow) is just visible. His hood is undecorated and practical. He wears wyningas, though his turnshoes aren’t visible. He wears a small silver or pewter cross. His sword (Type V, the ‘Gilling’ style) is characteristically English. At his belt he has a small coin-pouch, a whetstone and his seax; unusually, the sheath is not decorated. Retainer lowres.jpg
A household retainer in a herringbone tunic with yellow trim. He is wearing legwraps held in place by a fine tablet braid, and his dark blue cloak is held by a disc brooch. Around his neck is a pewter or silver cross, and on his finger a ring. He is carrying a Seax - unusually the sheath is not decorated. He also has a smaller knife, and an axe with wooden cover. From his belt is hanging a draw string purse. He is armed with a bow and arrows, perhaps a well paid marksman. Saxon archercommander.jpg
Here we have a late ninth- or tenth-century ealdorman. Both of his tunics are embroidered at the cuffs, and his cloak is not only richly dyed but decorated with gold braid, and held in place with a large silver disc-brooch. A metal circlet mark him out, while members of his household attend him. Ealdorman.jpg