Sunday, May 23, 2021

Mystery Solved?

Many of us who are interested in Viking era Scandinavian costume have heard of, or seen pictures of, the amazing Mammen find; remains of an embroidered garment that may have been a tunic; the padded cloth cuffs, adorned with metal brocaded tablet weaving; and other signs that a wealthy and powerful person/s had been buried there. 

What I hadn't known before now is that bones from this grave were originally discovered, but have been missing for over 100 years.  The bones from this find, also known to archaeologists as the Bjerringhøj find (the actual find location, which is near the village of Mammen) had gotten stored with bones from a find at Slotsbjergby, in Zeeland. 

Now, the bones have been rediscovered in the storage area of the National Museum of Denmark, where they apparently had been stored with another find.  Charlotte Rimstad, along with other researchers, wrote a report describing how the bones were lost and found.  That article was published online by Cambridge University Press, accessible free of charge:  it can be read and downloaded here.   In short, the Rimstad article notes that the newly-re-discovered bones were re-connected to the Bjerringhøj finds by analyzing the textiles that remained on them, and those textiles appear to be the remains of a set of ornamented pants cuffs similar to the ornamented wristlets associated with the "Mammen" find!

This story of mislaid bones is relevant to this blog because being able to study the bones, and not just the textiles that had been found with them, will provide (indeed, have already provided!) a greater amount of knowledge about the textiles than the textiles alone could provide.  


  1. This is so cool! Thank you for sharing it. Those hi-def images are the icing on the cake.

    1. You're welcome! Rimstad's report does make me wonder about the National Museum of Denmark's storage procedures, 100+ years ago.

    2. Indeed. There must be quite a few interesting things that have been lost simply because they weren't properly stored or documented, and I doubt the National Museum of Denmark is the only institution that had those kinds of problems.

    3. That's true. However, I believe that the Museum and the scholars that work with it deserve praise for admitting such errors publicly when they finally come to light.