Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Vendel Garb Update

While I wait for Amalie's Snartemo band to reach me from New Zealand, I have been considering an appropriate tunic pattern for a Vendel-period Norwegian outfit, starting with the tunic.  I've concluded that it should have a simple round neck, without a slit (because no brooches seem to have been found that would be suitable to close such a slit, in that period).  Based on that information, I figure that I can make the tunic from as little as 2 yards of wool flannel, provided that it's 60 inches wide.  My current idea is to go with off-white wool, which an EBay vendor is selling here for a good price.

In addition, I will clearly need some kind of overdress, and a shawl.  Both are simple--likely my overdress will be a simple peplos.  I'm thinking of dark blue herringbone wool, such as that sold here (it's the color at the very bottom of the picture) by The Wool Connection; at 60 inches wide, I can get by with only one yard. And I know where to find plain, smallish tortoise brooches. But as I learned from pearl during her discussion of shawls, I will also need a button or disc-on-bow brooch to fasten the shawl, and I know of no vendor that sells such an item.

I could save up to commission one from a vendor, I suppose (Raymond's Quiet Press will do such commissions, for example), but to do that I need to have a better idea of how big such brooches really were. This article by Johan Callmer makes them appear to be huge! Even if I stick with a design from early in the Vendel period (when such brooches were smaller), it appears that I'd still need a brooch that was at least 4 or 5 inches (roughly 10-14 cm) long. Is that right? It's certainly going to make it expensive, even if I don't opt for any enameling.

So now I'm hunting down articles about disc-on-bow brooches, partly to see if I can find one that identifies the size of any relevant brooch finds and partly to learn more about them in general. Any information that my readers might have would, as always, be appreciated.


  1. I cannot help - only admire your knowledge of early fashions!

  2. Thanks. As I said in my response to your comment on my Lithuanian costume post, I'm not so much an expert as an amateur who reads voraciously whatever I get my hands on. I've learned so much since I started this blog from the articles pearl has dug up (and generously shared), but there's so much more I'd like to know.

  3. It's admittedly the wrong country, but have you tried searching the collections at the Historical Museum in Sweden? ( I did a quick search of "ryggknappspänne", which is what disc-on-bow brooches are called in Sweden, and found 112 images (admittedly, some of them are of the same brooches). Not photos all include a scale, but of the ones that do, it seems as if there are two sizes, c. 10cm and c.14cm. A few were only 7-8cm long (this one for example: I'm not sure how good your Swedish is, but if you need any help, let me know.

  4. Hi, ossamenta!

    I suppose I didn't think of searching the Historiska Museet's database because it is, as you say, the wrong country (and also because I didn't know the correct term for the disc-on-bow brooch in Swedish; thanks for supplying it).

    Since you supplied me with the right terms, I've looked through some of the images. I need to go back and check to see whether the brooches there are too early for my purposes. But the database is being at least somewhat helpful; thanks again.

  5. The University Museums database is Norwegian, and might be useful:
    (It helps if you check the little box next to "Filtrer på bilder"/filter for images too.)

    I found what looks like a disc-on-bow brooch by searching for 'spenne', with the ID C4040, and there are plenty of earlier bow brooches without the button/disc if you search for 'Relieffspenne' but I'm having trouble finding many examples.

  6. I knew there was a Norwegian university database; I just couldn't recall how to find it. Thanks.