Project: Þorbjörg, part 2

So what do we know?

Lets compare the translations to the Reykjavik reconstruction (

She is wearing a mantle, that is blue, dark blue or black. The Reykjavik museum reconstruction displays a dark blue option.

The mantle is decorated with gems/precious stones – in the reconstruction the “gems” look quite like nothing I’ve seen so far from the archaeological findings. This certainly requires further research.

The author of the saga wrote, that she wore the glass beads on her neck. Reykiavik reconstruction has beads between the brooches. Is it possible the saga text says “on her neck”, because in the time it was written, brooches were no longer fashionable?

Next the hood – black lambskin and lined with white ermine/cat fur. The museum chose to use a cap. I think a proper hood with fur would be more practical in the far North.

Next we learn she had a staff. I don’t know why they put a piece of antler in her hand in the museum, but considering the distaffs found in the volva graves and the significance of spinning in the mythology, something resembling a distaff is in order. There’s a “knob” on it, decorated with brass and stones. I suspect this knob would be on top.

Now, the amadou belt. Why would it be amadou? This material is known for thousands of years, it’s not only great for starting a fire, but is also great at absorbing moisture, so it would work for dressing bleeding wounds, for example. As far as I know there are some differences in preparation of amadou, depending on whether you need a fire-starter or a moisture absorbent. Either way, this is a very demanding job. I’ve collected some fungus and I’ll see what I can do with it (so far it doesn’t look too good, it’s too brittle for a belt). It is also possible to buy already prepared amadou from stores with fly fishing supplies. The second option is “linked charm belt”. I suspect that would look something like modern charmed bracelets or the bead chains with “charms” from the Viking age, but so far I’ve seen nothing resembling a belt like that from the excavations, and a belt made of linked pieces seems to be a later invention (?).

The boots – they were either hairy/shaggy or lined with fur. Each option is unusual. I don’t think any hairy boots have been found, but doesn’t it make sense, when you’re living in snowland? (Fur on the outside to keep snow away from leather -> leather dosn’t get soaked). “Lined with fur” sounds equally good. At some point I should make en experimental comparison.

The gloves are white either on the inside or on the outside. It’s easy to imagine the fur inside was white, and the outer leather can just as well be of light colour.

The proper shape of the spoon will require a bit of research.

Now for the parts not mentioned in the saga. First of all, I’d love to get my hands on this book: , but it’ll probably take too long to arrive. I’ll use as much findings from Iceland as possible, and whatever I can find about Greenland findings. I need to establish, what would be the proper set of undergarment, gown (if at all?), smokkr and caftan/mantle. I’ll attempt to make the proper brooches and personal grooming items. There’s one piece of tablet weaving in Reykjavik museum, that seems to be the only one not yet made into pattern by tablet weaving fans, so I guess I’ll look for some replacement pattern. I’ll need naalbiding socks too.

EDIT: I have since dropped the idea and moved on to mostly Birka style tablet weaving.

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